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Genes Appear to Play Role in Age-Related Hearing Loss

Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) is the third most common chronic condition among older adults.  It affects everyone over the age of 60 and some people younger than that.  Presently, there is no cure for the condition because the genetic changes that cause it are not well understood.  Researchers came a step closer recently by identifying eight genes that contribute to age-related hearing loss. 

With age, body cells are genetically programmed to self-destruct in a process called apoptosis.  Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center are the first to demonstrate that apoptosis takes place in the inner ear structures that play a role in hearing.  In animal studies the investigators identified eight genes  that undergo automatic cell death and lead to age-related hearing loss.  They hope that by learning more about these genes, they can find a way to stop age-related hearing loss from occurring.

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