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TMC1, a Deafness-Related Gene


Laboratory: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Technology: Hearing loss is a common communication disorder affecting nearly 1 in 1,000 children in the United States alone, and nearly 50% of adults by the age of 80. Hearing loss can be caused by environmental and disease-related factors; however, hearing loss due to genetic factors accounts for approximately 50% of cases.

The NIH announces the isolation of two novel genes involved in hearing; TMC1, short for transmembrane channel-like gene 1. The inventors have discovered that dominant and recessive mutations in TMC1 underlie two forms of hereditary deafness, known as DFNA36 and DFNB7/11. TMC1 encodes a protein required for normal function of the mammalian hair cell, which plays a critical role within the hearing pathway that detects sound in the inner ear.

The invention discloses TMC1 nucleic acids, vectors, and cells. Also disclosed are methods of detecting hearing loss, or a predisposition to hearing loss, due to a mutation in TMC1, as well as methods for identifying agents that interact with the TMC1 gene in a cell. Nucleic acids and methods of use for TMC2, a gene closely related to TMC1, are also disclosed.


  • Development of a genetic diagnostic test for hearing loss
  • Development of pharmaceuticals to treat hearing loss

Opportunity: Available for nonexclusive licensing. The NIDCD Otolaryngology Branch is also seeking statements of capability or interest from parties interested in collaborative research to further develop, evaluate, or commercialize this technology, as well as collaborate on further pre-clinical and clinical studies with the TMC2 gene mutations.


Lauren Nguyen-Antczak, Ph.D.

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