To listen loud music Using headphones may be a pleasure for many people, but apart from the feeling of luxury, it causes a lot of damage to the hearing, as many mothers have already warned. Moreover, aging itself leads to hearing loss.
Until then, this deafness was considered irreversible – except through the use of hearing aids or a cochlear implant. And now in an article published in the magazine Journal of Clinical Investigation InsightResearchers describe the genetic mechanism that causes this type of hearing loss.
The new study could be the basis for developing treatments that make it possible to prevent deafness.
Understand the research
Overall, the research used the results of previous studies, which highlighted the role of the TMTC4 gene in several cases of hearing loss – both in animals and in a rare type of hereditary deafness in humans.
In both cases, mutations in this gene trigger a cascading molecular effect, called the unfolded protein response (UPR). Ultimately, this leads to the death of hair cells in the inner ear.
The new study found that listening to very loud sounds or using medications such as cisplatin, a common form of chemotherapy, triggers the same mutation mechanism in the TMTC4 gene.
In general, these stimuli also activate the UPR in hair cells. Therefore, researchers believe that the protein response may underlie several different types of deafness.
“We now have strong evidence that TMTC4 is the human deafness gene and that the UPR is a real target for preventing deafness,” says Dylan Chan, a scientist involved in the research.
Advances in science
Now, researchers believe they can translate this discovery to prevent hearing loss caused by aging and exposure to very loud sounds, which is called progressive deafness.
“If there's any way we can stop hair cell death, this is how we can prevent hearing loss,” Chan said.
Currently, there are several medications that block the UPR process, thus preventing hearing loss. But for now, its effectiveness has only been proven in laboratory mice. Scientists hope to test these drugs on people at risk of hearing loss.
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