FRIDAY, Oct. 15 (HealthDay News) -- New insight into how different types of age-related hearing loss may occur could help lead to the development of drugs to preserve hearing, scientists say.

The team at the University of Minnesota Medical School looked at how two closely related genes affect hearing in mice. Mutations in these genes are associated with deafness in humans, they noted.

The study, published online Oct. 14 in PLoS Genetics, found that proteins produced by the genes play a key role in two important processes that are required to maintain hearing in mice.

"These separate maintenance pathways are likely important for maintaining auditory function during aging and may contribute to future understanding of common forms of age-related hearing loss in humans," study author Ben Perrin said in a news release from the journal's publisher.

Because animal studies frequently fail to produce beneficial results for humans, additional research is needed.

Funding for the study was supplied by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about hearing loss.