RESOURCES: Roots of Hearing Loss

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Science  15 Dec 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5499, pp. 2027
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5499.2027d

Hearing specialists expect a surge in deafness as people of a certain age begin to pay for the thunderous concerts and throbbing discos of their youth. Nevertheless, more than half the cases of fading hearing in developed countries are caused by genes rather than ear abuse. The Hereditary Hearing Loss Homepage, hosted by the University of Antwerp in Belgium, tracks the burgeoning field of hearing loss genetics.

Only about 10 deafness genes had been discovered when two hearing geneticists founded the site 6 years ago. Today, more than 60 genes are thought to cause hearing loss, often through defects in membrane and motor proteins. The site describes known and suspected genes and links to important papers and accounts in the genetics encyclopedia Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man. Separate sections explore broader disorders that involve hearing loss, such as some mitochondrial diseases. Besides links to resources like an ear protein database, there's also a list of mouse models.

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