'Relief for hearing loss, dementia patients soon'

Change in gene can help recover cognition problems

 Soon, patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and hearing impairments may have relief from further damage to their condition.

The removal of a gene can help prevent deterioration of certain conditions, a research by Sri Ganga Ram Hospital and the University of Louisville School of Medicine says.

The proposal has been forwarded to pharmaceuticals who can work on the project and find solutions for thousands of people suffering from cognitive and hearing impairments.

Cognition is a group of mental processes that includes attention, memory, language, learning, reasoning and problem solving. 

Currently, 45 per cent of people between 45-92 years of age suffer from hearing impairment. 

Combine research

The department of biochemistry, Sri Ganga Ram Hospital and department of physiology and biophysics, University of Louisville School of Medicine conducted a combine research, under which an experiment was done on three sets of mice over a period of five-six months to arrive at the solution.

The research found out that MMP-9 – a gene – plays a role in the decline of memory and hearing abilities.

The removal of this gene can help control hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy).HHcy is a condition which is caused due to high level of homocysteine, a non-protein amino acid, in blood. This damages the inner lining of blood vessels. 

“With the damage of the inner lining of the blood vessels, a person is exposed to heart attacks, strokes and cognitive and hearing impairments,” said a senior consultant of the department of biochemistry at Sri Ganga Ram Hospital Dr Seema Bhargava. 

“When we conducted the experiment on the third set of mice, in which we had completely knocked off the MMP-9 gene, we found that the brain and hearing function was normal,” added Dr Bhargava. 

However, in humans since the gene cannot be deleted, only further damage to the hearing and memory impairment can be prevented and lost memory cannot be revived.

Pharmaceutical companies can work on making inhibitors for the gene. 

“It is important to identify individuals at risk for HHcy, especially the elderly population. To reduce plasma Hcy level, adequate dietary vitamin supplements should be given,” said Dr Bhargava.

“However, if HHcy is already present , vitamins will take several months to reduce its concentration. In such situations, our research study has advocated the role of MMP-9 inhibitors by pharmaceutical companies as a therapeutic option.” added Dr Bhargava.

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