Scientists identify proteins crucial to loss of hearing
Proteins play key role in genes that help auditory hair cells grow
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
October 15, 2015
Baltimore, MD, October 15, 2015 — Almost 40 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. Right now, there is no way to reverse this condition, largely because auditory hair cells, which sense sound and relay that information to the brain, do not regenerate.
A new study led by scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) has found a key clue to how these hair cells develop. The current study identified a new role for a particular group of proteins, known as RFX transcription factors, in the development and survival of the hair cells.
“This discovery opens up new avenues, not only for understanding the genetics of hearing, but also, eventually for treating deafness,” said the principal investigator, Ronna P. Hertzano, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Otorhinolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at the UM SOM.
The study appeared in the latest issue of the journal Nature Communications. The work was done in collaboration with scientists at several institutions, among them Ran Elkon, PhD, an Assistant Professor and computational biologist at the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University in Israel.