Tel Aviv: A low cost gene-based technology will detect hearing loss more quickly and cheaply than existing methods.
Karen Avraham, professor at the Tel Aviv University`s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, used "exome deep sequencing" to detect deafness, which sequences thousands of genes at a time, along with Moein Kanaan, professor at Bethlehem University.
Exome sequencing collects relevant DNA from specific sites of the body. The process was used to identify five genetic mutations leading to deafness in a population of 11 Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Authority Arabs, not related to one another.
This is the first time scientists have identified some of these genetic mutations in Middle Eastern deaf populations, and the first time this technology has ever been applied to these populations, the journal Genome Biology reports.
"It is a remarkable step forward in helping us to find treatments - and even cures - for patients," Avraham added. "This new technology is changing the way we practice genomic medicine, and revolutionising genetic diagnostics," Avraham added, according to a Tel Aviv statement.
Avraham`s method provides better diagnosis capabilities and can improve the quality of care for patients with hearing loss.
For less than $500, researchers can now scan all the known genes for deafness and provide results in a matter of weeks, as opposed to testing that in the past has cost many times more.
More than 28 million Americans are hearing impaired, with at least half of the cases traced to genetic causes.
The condition can be especially challenging for children who are born with hearing impairment, because spoken language, reading and cognitive development are all tied to hearing.
The technology can be used to search for genetic mutations that characterise any disease or condition, Avraham noted.