February 8, 2010
Mice Shed New Light On Causes Of Childhood Deafness
Mimicking hereditary deafness in a mouse brings doctors closer to a cure
Deafness is the most common disorder of the senses. Tragically, it commonly strikes in early childhood, severely damaging an affected child's ability to learn speech and language. In many cases, children gradually lose their hearing to become profoundly deaf over a long period of months to years, but scientists know very little about how this progressive loss happens, making prospects for prevention and cure very slim. Over half the cases of childhood deafness are estimated to be due to defects in just one gene passed from either the mother or father, and many of these deafness genes have been identified. However, as the way we hear is so complicated, it has been really difficult to work out exactly how these genes cause such wholesale effects.
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