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Researchers Discover Gene That Influences Hearing Ability

Update Date: Aug 05, 2014 10:02 AM EDT

Researchers have identified the salt-inducible kinase 3 (SIK3) gene, a key influencer in how well we can hear, particularly at high frequencies. 

The finding increases the understanding of the causes of hearing loss affecting 10 million people in the UK. 

The study by King's College London, involved 4,939 adults from across Europe. Researchers looked for tiny changes in their genomes that correlated with their hearing ability. They found a single change in the gene SKI3, which was then shown to be present in the cochlea of mice. 

'Hearing loss in adults is a complex condition involving both genetic and environmental factors, but we still know very little about the genes involved which is why this research is so important,' said lead researcher Dr Frances Williams, in the press release. 

'Hearing Loss is a hidden health condition that can isolate people from friends and family, eroding their quality of life. By funding research, such as the study led by King's College London, to understand why people lose their hearing, we believe that treatments and a cure could be possible within our lifetime,' added Dr Ralph Holme, Head of Biomedical Research at Action on Hearing Loss. 

The paper describing the gene SIK3 is published online

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