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EuroHear Brochure

  EuroHear: A European research project on hereditary deafness, molecular, physiology and pathophysiology of the inner ear.

The 5 year project commenced on December 1st 2004.

EuroHear was officially launched in Paris on March 23, gathering more than 70 people in the Conference Centre of the Curie Institute.

This field of research has been supported by the European Commission for several years. Indeed this project, granted 12.5 M€ by the EC, follows programmes also led by Christine Petit which have brought to light the prominent role of heredity in isolated (non syndromic), congenital or early-onset childhood forms of deafness.

As a direct consequence of these investigations, molecular diagnosis for some forms of deafness is now implemented in developed countries, as well as in certain developing countries.

This aforesaid implementation results in greatly improved genetic counselling available to families. It allows them to be informed about the recurrence risks for future children, of the hearing impairment’s probable evolution, and of the possible relevance of cochlear implantation.

Twenty-two academic institutions and three small privately owned companies from ten different countries are working in partnership over the project, bringing together 250 scientists across the world - acknowledged experts including physicians, geneticists, molecular and cellular biologists, electrophysiologists, biophysicists and theoreticians.

EuroHear is expanding the field of investigation to include the elderly population: presbycusis, a sensorineural form of deafness, accounts for the majority of cases of sensorineural hearing loss occurring in people over the age of 40. The hypothesis that this age-related hearing loss has a genetic basis has been put forward for decades. Only recently has science proved that 50% of the loss can be attributed to genetic factors. Presbycusis is a complex trait influenced by the interplay between environmental and genetic risk factors.

New research strategies, utilising tools of various scientific disciplines, must be developed to unravel these complex mechanisms.

The understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the development and function of the inner ear will pave the way for research into therapeutic tools, a challenge also undertaken by EuroHear.