Deafness Research UK supports glue ear with funding boost for Scotland
The project is led by Dr Mahmood Bhutta, an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon from Oxford, who says: “Our study is already the largest ENT study in the UK, but our statistical tests tell us that we really need thousands of people to take part for us to have meaningful results. The funding from Deafness Research UK is critical, and gives us a tremendous boost to help us realise our aims of understanding these disorders better.”
Inflammation of the ear is very common in children. Some may experience an ear infection, and others may develop fluid in the ear, known as “glue ear”. Most children will have had either an ear infection or experienced glue ear by the age of five: ear infections are the most common bacterial infection in children, with glue ear the most common cause of hearing loss in this age group.
Many children recover from glue ear, but in some the problems may persist and can lead to prolonged hearing problems. Currently we do not understand why some children develop a longer-term problem with glue ear. We do know that genes play a significant part, but we do not know which genes are responsible. Dr Bhutta’s study will be trying to discover some of the genes that contribute to ear inflammation, and this could play a very important role in understanding, treating, or even curing, glue ear.
Deafness Research UK’s contribution towards the study will fund the collection of information from over 300 families recruited at Scottish hospitals, to help build data so researchers can investigate patterns of DNA. This funding is critical to extend this large study to encompass the entire United Kingdom.
Vivienne Michael, Chief Executive of Deafness Research UK, said: “We are committed to funding these studies because they offer a real opportunity to better understand and ultimately treat or cure serious ear disorders, in this case one which primarily targets children. Many children recover from glue ear but in some problems persist and can lead to prolonged hearing problems in later life. Currently we do not understand why, but Dr Bhutta’s research will go a long way towards providing the answers.”