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Gene behind hearing loss discovered

Scientists have revealed the gene responsible for hearing loss among white adults.

Otosclerosis is a disease that results in progressive hearing loss as the bone in the middle of the ear interrupts sound waves passing to the inner ear.

Although environmental causes remain unclear, scientists say they have now identified the genetics at work.

"The gene in which the variant is located points to a pathway that contributes to the disease," says scientist Melissa Thys.

"This may be a lead for better forms of treatment in the future."

Currently, the best option is restorative surgery, but scientists believe the otosclerosis gene may offer "large potential for therapy."

Thys and her team studied a gene called TGBF1 that plays a role in the embryonic development of the ear and is expressed in the otosclerotic bone.

Using DNA sequencing, they identified that this gene influences people's susceptibility for otosclerosis.

They also discovered that a more active form of the gene is protective against the disease.

European Society of Human Genetics