Washington: Scientists from Baylor College of Medicine in Texas have developed a mouse model mimicking childhood deafness, which they believe would provide important insights into the cause of the condition.
Deafness is the most common disorder of the senses. It commonly strikes in early childhood, severely damaging an affected child`s ability to learn speech and language.
Over half the cases of childhood deafness are estimated to be due to defects in just one gene passed from either the mother or father, and many of these deafness genes have been identified.
However, exactly how these genes cause such wholesale effects is still unclear.
Researcher Dr John Oghalai, of Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, along with postdoctoral fellow Anping Xia, has now created mice, which carry a mutation in one of the genes, called alpha tectorin, known to cause progressive childhood deafness.
The mice develop the same hearing problems as children.
Oghalai`s team are now able to look in detail at exactly what is going wrong in the development of the inner ears of their mice.
New insights have already been gained into how and why the mutation affects processing of soundwaves entering the ear.
There are clues that the inner ear`s attempts to compensate for the hearing loss may cause ongoing damage leading eventually to profound deafness.