New study aims to uncover genetic factors for hearing loss

PHOENIX, AZ AUGUST 29, 2006 Researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), the House Ear Institute (HEI) and other organizations have initiated a study to identify the genes and genetic interactions involved in age-related hearing loss (presbycusis). The study, which was funded primarily by The Seaver Foundation, will use the latest state-of-the-art gene chip technology to uncover the genetic predisposition of presbycusis, a disorder thought to be caused by multiple genes, the environment and ethnicity. Affymetrix, a company specializing in tools for scientific research, is providing the micro-array technology necessary for processing the DNA samples in this study. Through an understanding of its molecular mechanisms, scientists hope to develop earlier diagnostics and ultimately prevent the disorder.

Presbycusis is the loss of hearing that gradually occurs in most individuals as they age. About 30-35 percent of adults between the ages of 65 and 75 years have a hearing loss. It is estimated that 40-50 percent of people 75 years and older have a hearing loss, according to the National Institutes of Health, and it often leads to isolation and depression. "This study will serve as a foundation for gene discoveries in other complex diseases and provides the groundwork for early diagnosis and treatment of age-related hearing loss," said Rick A. Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., the principal investigator of the study at House Ear Institute.

Researchers at TGen, working with their counterparts at the House Ear Institute, will utilize the Affymetrix technology to examine DNA markers 500,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in high throughput fashion, which will provide them with the opportunity to define the genetic basis of this prevalent disorder. The study will evaluate nearly 2,000 patient samples collected at the Hereditary Deafness Laboratory at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. One of the short-term goals of the study is to crea

Contact: Amy Erickson
The Translational Genomics Research Institute

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