Friday, April 17, 2009

Tiny Molecules

An international team of researchers say they’ve figured out something that could lead to major breakthroughs in treating certain kinds of hearing loss. Scientists from Purdue and Tel Aviv University say they’ve figured out that the lack of tiny molecules lead to progressive hearing loss. These small DNA building blocks called microRNAs are critical to the survival of hair cells. MicroRNAs regulate genes by selectively preventing certain genes from making proteins. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Deafness Research Foundation among others. Other recent studies in Spain and the United Kingdom have shown a mutation in just a single microRNA could cause deafness in humans.