Deafness Research UK, London, will be sponsoring several new grants for research, as follows: 

One of the grants for a pilot study involves finding out if there is a possible relationship between age-related hearing loss, genetics, and the environment. The study taking place at the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College in London will use older female twins because of their similar genetic background, but different hearing profiles. If the initial tests are successful, they will go on to conduct further research on more than 3,800 twins.

Another study will be an investigation into a tool for evaluating suspected cases auditory processing disorder (APD) in children. It is not yet known what causes APD, and it can be difficult to diagnose as there is not one single test for APD, says the organization. Children with the disorder will show normal audiograms but have difficulty understanding speech when there is background noise, and differentiating similar speech sounds. A team at The Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital, will use noninvasive techniques to compare auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) between people with normal hearing and those with APD. It is hoped that the ABRs will prove a useful and objective tool to aid diagnosis.

An additional study will look at the effect of a common genetic mutation of hearing, which can render its sufferers permanently deaf. Gene, ‘Connexin 26’ is involved in maintaining the balance of fluids in the inner ear, having two copies of the gene leads to the hearing loss, but it is not yet known what affect of having just one is. A team at the University of Bristol plans to compare the genetic data of children up to the age of 11 who carry either one or two mutations of the gene. The team also hopes to find out whether there is any advantage in having one copy of the mutation, as this may explain why it is so common.

Deafness Research UK is a national charity that focuses on helping deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals through medical research and education.

[Source: Deafness Research UK]