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New Grants For Research Into Hearing Disorders, UK

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Lives of millions of people with hearing difficulties may soon benefit from several new grants for research from leading medical research charity, deafness research UK. One of the grants for a pilot study involves finding out if there is a possible relationship between age related hearing loss, genetics and the environment. The study taking place at the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology at King's College in London will use older female twins because of their similar genetic background, but different hearing profiles. If the initial tests are successful, they will go on to conduct further research on more than 3,800 twins.
Vivienne Michael, CEO of Deafness Research UK said: "This latest research could reveal more information urgently needed to prevent and eventually cure progressive hearing loss all together. That would of course be a major medical breakthrough and we are cautiously optimistic that this study has a chance of reaching such a positive conclusion in the long-term. It is vital that we continue to receive further funding so that potentially life changing research like this can continue."
Another study taking place thanks to these new grants will be an investigation into a tool for evaluating suspected cases Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) in children. It is not yet known what causes APD, and it can be difficult to diagnose as there is not one single test for APD. Children with the disorder will show normal audiograms (a standard test of hearing) but have difficulty understanding speech when there is background noise and differentiating similar speech sounds. A team at The Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital, will use non invasive techniques to compare auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) between people with normal hearing and those with APD. It is hoped that the ABRs will prove a useful and objective tool to aid diagnosis.
An additional study that will also be taking place will be to look at the effect of a common genetic mutation of hearing, which can render its sufferers permanently deaf. Gene, 'Connexin 26' is involved in maintaining the balance of fluids in the inner ear, having two copies of the gene leads to the hearing loss, but it is not yet known what affect of having just one is. A team at the University of Bristol intend to compare the genetic data of children up to The age of eleven who carry either one or two mutations of the gene. The team also hope to find out whether there is any advantage in having one copy of the mutation, as this may explain why it is so common.
Deafness Research UK
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