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Some forms of acquired deafness, more specifically those that can be prevented by people protecting their ears when they have to, could soon be cured, thanks to efforts made by researchers at the University of Leeds. The receptors that allow us to stay upright and know when we are falling are also located in the ear, so any damage to the auditory tract also implies at least minor disturbances in a person's ability to hold their balance. Just recently, they took a step further in understanding the underlying mechanisms that in some cases lead to deafness.
Mutations in this protein have been linked to hearing loss, particularly of the type connected to Usher syndrome, which is a form of degenerative deaf-blindness,” UL Faculty of Biological Science researcher Dr Michelle Peckham explains.

This knowledge should help inform any further studies into how a mutation can create problems in hearing,” Peckham adds. This explains why, when boxers or other fighters are hit in the ear, they lose their balance and fall to the ground. They have discovered that a certain protein found in the tiny hairs located in each human ear works quite differently from others in the same area, and are hoping to exploit that to people's advantage. The new chemical has been dubbed myosin 7 motor protein and is only one of the over 40 similar myosins in the human body.

The most common types of myosin can be found in large skeletal muscles, as well as in the pericardium, the muscle of the heart. She tells that further studies may be able to shed some light on the causes of a severe inherited genetic condition known as the Usher syndrome, which makes sufferers progressively lose hearing, sight and balance.

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