Scientists have pinpointed the genetic foundation of deafness in later life, according to The Telegraph. There is a gene protein called Bak which affects the inner ear as people grow older, causing hair cells which do not rejuvenate to self-destruct. The findings are expected to help doctors treat age-related decline in hearing as researchers at the University of Wisonsin found that removing the gene in mice prevented the death of those cells and stopped them from going deaf. Becoming harder of hearing in later life affects four in ten people over 65 and has been branded a “major social and health problem” by Dr Tomas Prolla who published the research by he and his colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Here we report mice with a deletion of the gene Bak exhibit reduced age-related cell death of neurons and hair cells in the inner ear and prevention of AHL," he said.