Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

50+: Live Better, Longer

Font Size

Researchers Discover 'Anti-Deafness' Gene

WebMD Health News

Nov. 29, 2000 -- When researchers found seven members of a large Pakistani family, who should be deaf but weren't, they were alerted to the existence of a powerful gene that appears to block hearing loss. The finding may make it possible to design new therapies for deafness, suggest researchers in the December issue of the journal Nature Genetics.

Although their relatives who inherited both copies of a deafness-causing gene have profound hearing loss, seven family members who inherited the same gene but also inherited a second, unidentified "anti-deafness" gene escaped the seemingly inevitable fate of hearing loss, report Edward R. Wilcox, PhD, and colleagues at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, or NIDCD, in Bethesda, MD, and Punjab University in Lahore, Pakistan.

"About one in 2000 children are born profoundly deaf due to genetic causes, but little is known about how such genes cause hearing loss or what to do about it," says Xue-Zhong Liu, MD, PhD, who reviewed the study for WebMD. He explains that scientists from NIDCD have found a gene that is able to influence and modify other genes for genetic deafness.

"The finding may help researchers figure out on a molecular level what goes wrong in deafness and eventually design a therapy, although any such possibility is far in the future," says Liu, an assistant professor of human genetics and otolaryngology at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond.

More than half of all cases of childhood deafness are inherited. Some occur in connection with other genetic disorders such as profound mental retardation, but the large majority of hereditary hearing loss cases occur as isolated genetic defects.

Wilcox and his colleagues looked at a large Pakistani family with a history of deafness. The investigators first performed a genome scan, looking at the entire library of genetic information that occurs on the chromosomes within the cells of the family members. They were looking for specific markers that act as signposts pointing to the likely whereabouts of a specific gene.

They found a marker for a deafness gene in eight deaf family members. But to their surprise, they also identified seven family members who had the same gene but had normal hearing, indicating that the researchers were either looking at the wrong gene or had found evidence of an unknown gene -- one that could counteract or neutralize the effects of the deafness gene.

Today on WebMD

Eating for a longer, healthier life.
woman biking
How to stay vital in your 50s and beyond.
womans finger tied with string
Learn how we remember, and why we forget.
man reviewing building plans
Do you know how to stay healthy as you age?
fast healthy snack ideas
how healthy is your mouth
dog on couch
doctor holding syringe
champagne toast
Two women wearing white leotards back to back
Man feeding woman
two senior women laughing