Mutated Muscle Protein Causes Deafness, Max Planck Institute Research

Excessive noise is not the only thing that causes damage to hearing. In many cases, genetic factors are responsible for the loss of hearing at a young age. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin together with colleagues from Nijmegen have discovered a previously unknown genetic cause of progressive hearing impairment: the disease is caused by mutations of the SMPX (small muscle protein) gene, which is located on the X chromosome. It was not previously known that this gene, which is active in the skeletal muscle and heart, also plays a role in hearing. The discovery will make it easier to diagnose progressive hearing impairment and may also provide a starting point for the development of new treatment methods.

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