2 Out of 145 Ghanaians Carry Deaf Genes

Scientists at the University of Ghana have revealed that almost two out of every 145 Ghanaians walking around carry genes that will potentially cause deafness in their children.

The scientists at the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) at the university collected samples from children in the 11 schools for the deaf across the country.

According to the findings which was reported by Graphic Online, Ghana has a1.4 per cent carrier frequency rate for deafness and are likely to pass on the defective gene to their children.

In the groundbreaking research by the University, they identified the deaf-causing genes as Gap junction beta 2 (GJB2) or Connexin 26. This gene directs the production of proteins that make up part of the inner ear.

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidate, Mr Mawuli Adade, conducted the research which was approved by the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research. It was supervised by a biochemist, Professor Gordon A. Awandare, and two experts in Audiology at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital — Prof. Ambroise Wankam and Prof. Geoffrey Amedofu.

The study results, which were published in the medical journal, Frontiers Journal, in September 2019, showed that 1,104 medical reports of the students in the 11 schools for the deaf were reviewed to identify selected participants.

Ninety-seven families with at least two members living with hearing impairment and 166 individuals who did not have any family history of the condition were then identified.

Mr Adade, who conducted the field research told the Daily Graphic that the study had demonstrated that genetics was a major contributory factor to hearing impairment in the country.

According to him, the team was currently employing next-generation sequencing techniques to identify other gene variants (“gene-mistakes”) associated with hearing impairment in Ghana to establish a clearer and a more precise picture of how to stop the phenomenon or help check its spread. “Ultimately, we hope to develop appropriate and cost-effective diagnostic approaches for newborn genetic screening to contribute to the reduction of the burden of the condition in Ghana,” he said.

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