Courtesy Rachel Haridsty Mouse Genome Centre, Medical Research Council, Harwell, UK
 MUTT AND JEFF: The Jeff mutant (bottom left), derived from an ethylnitrosourea screen for deaf mutants, has craniofacial abnormalities such as a shortened face when compared with a wild-type mouse (top left). The Jeff mutation maps to mouse chromosome 17 in a region of the mouse genome homolous to human chromosome 2p16-23.

A large-scale mouse-mutagenesis program in Harwell, UK, recently turned up two new models for the most common form of childhood deafness. Otitis media (OM), as the name implies, is an inflammation of the middle ear. Although believed to be triggered by infection, studies of twins indicate a complex genetic predisposition.1 Children who have malformed eustachian tubes--those with cleft palate or Down syndrome, for instance--seem to be particularly vulnerable.

When OM is accompanied by the buildup of fluid, it is called OM with effusion, or "glue ear,"...

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