Many people gradually lose some of their hearing ability as they get older. A new study by researchers at King’s College London, Karolinska Institute, and Erasmus University reveals 10 new genes linked with hearing loss and the part of the ear affected.

The findings were published in American Journal of Human Genetics, in a paper titled, “Genome-wide association meta-analysis identifies 48 risk variants and highlights the role of the stria vascularis in hearing loss.”

“Hearing loss is one of the top contributors to years lived with disability and is a risk factor for dementia,” wrote the researchers. “Molecular evidence on the cellular origins of hearing loss in humans is growing. Here, we performed a genome-wide association meta-analysis of clinically diagnosed and self-reported hearing impairment on 723,266 individuals and identified 48 significant loci, 10 of which are novel.”

The team studied genetic analyses previously carried out in centers around the world using samples from 723,266 people from 17 studies who had clinically diagnosed or self-reported hearing impairment. The researchers identified 48 genes linked to hearing loss, including 10 new variants newly linked to hearing.

Further observation on mouse genetics demonstrated that age-related hearing loss is due to changes in the stria vascularis which is necessary for hearing. The results provide targets for the basis of future research which could improve therapies against hearing loss.

“Our findings indicate the importance of the stria vascularis in the mechanism of hearing impairment, providing future paths for developing targets for therapeutic intervention in hearing loss,” concluded the researchers.

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