Sensorineural hearing loss
Sensorineural hearing loss results from defects in the inner ear, which consists of the cochlea (required for hearing), vestibular apparatus (required for balance), and the auditory nerve. This condition is often associated with abnormalities of the cochlear sensory hair cells, which are the specialised cells responsible for detecting and converting sound waves into nerve signals that are transmitted to the brain for interpretation.
Sensorineural deafness can arise as a congenital condition (i.e. born deaf), or hearing loss can occur progressively in life with either an early- or late-onset. Late-onset hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is one of the leading chronic health conditions experienced by the elderly. It affects more than 70% of people aged 70+ making it the most common sensory deficit in the aged population.
By studying mouse models of sensorineural hearing loss, we have identified a number of novel genes associated with these conditions. Investigation of these mouse models will improve our understanding of the molecular pathways involved in auditory development and function.