News & Information

Hearing Loss Gene Discovered

Hearing loss and Genetics

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There’s big news for those who suffer from hearing loss and it comes from researchers at the University of South Florida. It recently announced it’s found the gene believed to be directly associated with hearing loss in older Americans. These findings could mean significant changes in the way new products are developed and how doctors approach preventive measures when counseling patients. It’s believed 30 million Americans are impacted by this type of hearing loss.

The researchers, Robert Frisina Sr. and Robert Frisina Jr. began their research close to a decade ago with the goal of finding out what causes hearing loss in some people. Soon, they had the backing of the University of South Florida’s Global Center for Hearing and Speech Research as well as the Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) National Technical Institute for the Deaf.


The teams discovered a genetic biomarker for presbycuiss, but just as importantly, they discovered a genetic mutation that’s directly related to hearing loss and the way humans process speech. The House Ear Institute also participated in the efforts of segregating the gene that creates protein in the cochlea, known as glutamate receptor metabotropic 7 or GRM7. This is what helps us convert sound into code that the nervous system recognizes and processes. Our brains are then able to use this to process both hearing and speech.

Sound complicated? We think so too – but it’s exciting and promising news.

This gene is the first genetic biomarker for human age related hearing loss, meaning if you had certain configurations of this gene you would know that you are probably going to lose your hearing faster than someone who might have another configuration,

explained Robert Frisina Jr., who is also a professor at the USF College of Engineering.

The Study

DNA analyses were used in the study using a total of 687 participants. Each completed several hours of exams to determine their hearing abilities. Observations of the ability to process speech and genetic studies were made as well. One interesting find was there appeared to be different results males and females. The gene ended up having a negative impact for men, but for women, it was a far more positive impact, especially in their later years.

Of course, this hasn’t resulted in a definitive cure, but the research opens the door for a deeper understanding of how hearing loss works. Whether it’s age related or if one is born with hearing disabilities, there’s real progress being made.

For the short term, researchers believe that the gene can help people understand how to protect their hearing. They noted that people can prevent hearing loss with little things like avoiding loud noises, particular medications know to cause hearing damage and wearing ear protection. The scientists now understood that presbycusis is caused by a number of different genetic and environmental factors. In the long term, it can play a significant role in all hearing loss dynamics.

Donna is a professional writer residing in south Mississippi. With more than 15 years writing experience, she has written several e-books, countless newsletters and has provided content for more than 150 websites. She completed her first novel last year and is currently in the research phase for her second novel. She has worked with battered women for two decades as they seek safety away from their abusers. Many of these victims suffer hearing damage or hearing loss as a result of the abuse they endure. With this insight, she brings an interesting dynamic to the Hard of Hearing for Young People Foundation. Donna on Google+

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