A new study published in the journal, Human Mutations, claims that researchers have identified the genes that are responsible for noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). Researchers at the University of Antwerp, Belgium found that three genes involved in potassium recycling could be implicated.
The study led by Professor Guy Van Camp identified the genes during a study of 1,000 men who were exposed to high noise courtesy their work at paper pulp mills and steel factories in Sweden. The scientists tested the men and conducted a genetic analysis on those who were very sensitive to the noise.
"Significant differences between the susceptible and resistant workers were found in the sequence of three genes KCNE1, KCNQ1 and KCNQ4," Van Camp said. "Further studies of KCNE1 show the version of the gene associated with increased risk to noise causes the encoded ion channel to open more rapidly than the normal version."
This defective gene could be responsible for making people sensitive to noise. Dr Ralph Holme, of Britain's national charity for the deaf and hard of hearing RNID commented that the finding was a breakthrough. "This discovery could revolutionize the way this common form of hearing loss is prevented and treated in the future," he added.