Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

European researchers identify genetic determinants of deafness

28.08.2003


September 1 is World Deafness Day



Deafness is a real and often underestimated health problem in Europe: 6% of the European population suffer of hearing impairment. It is now known that over 50% of all hearing impairments is caused by genetic factor. Over the last 7 years, the European Commission has channelled more than €10 million into research on different aspects of deafness. One particular project receiving support from the European Commission identified several genes which when affected lead to inherited deafness in humans. These discoveries increase significantly our understanding of the hearing process and open avenues for new therapies for deafness.

On the occasion of World Deafness Day on 1 September, European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said: “The number of patients suffering of hearing impairment is constantly growing due to increased noise pollution and to an ageing population. So far, aside from hearing aids, there is no remedy for deafness. Developing new therapies requires the best researchers from different countries and disciplines to work together in order to improve our knowledge on the hearing process and to identify the causes leading to deafness. This is precisely what the EU is making to happen through its research programmes.”


Deafness is a real heath problem in Europe

In Europe, 22.5 million individuals suffer form hearing impairment with 2 million profoundly deaf. In children, deafness impedes language acquisition and generates learning difficulties. In adults, if often leads to severe disruption of social links which very frequently results in depression. All together, in Europe, the financial cost of hearing impairment has been estimated to be €78 billion per year (based on average of €3,500 per patient annual costs for special education, speech therapy, hearing aids, physician and specialists fees, and other expenses). This is more than the combined economic costs of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, spinal injury, stroke and Parkinson’s disease. Furthermore, this figure is likely to grow continuously in time due to noise pollution and ageing. Hearing loss is the third leading chronic disability following arthritis and hypertension.

Research on deafness is a European priority

The European Commission is supporting research on deafness for many years. In particular, the project “hereditary deafness” co-ordinated by Prof. Christine Petit (Pasteur Institute, Paris, France) allowed substantial progress in the understanding of the hearing process and in the identification of the genetic determinants of deafness. 50 % of the hearing deficiencies have a genetic origin. Importantly, this consortium of leading European researchers identified half of the 36 genes known to be associated with deafness. One of these genes, “connexin 26” was found to be responsible for more than 30% of deafness cases in Europe. The identification of the genetic determinants is crucial for diagnosing the underlying causes of deafness. These diagnostic tools are now available and can be used in a very large proportion of cases of deafness to identify the genetic origin of their hearing impairment.

Furthermore, this research has considerably increased our knowledge of the hearing mechanism: i.e. how a wave sound can be transmitted from the outer ear to the inner ear and be sent to the brain as an electrical signal. These discoveries open new avenues for developing innovative therapies for deafness. Several mouse models have also been developed mimicking the human hearing impairments. They will be very useful for testing new therapeutic approaches.

All together, this European effort has considerably increased our knowledge on this important health problem. However, we are still far from understanding the complete picture and most importantly there is still a long way before having new potential therapies for deafness. This is why the European Commission has made deafness a research priority in the second call for proposals of the Sixth Framework Programme published in July 2003, inviting large European projects to study the hearing process and deafness.

Jacques Remacle | alfa

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope
23.10.2017 | University at Buffalo

nachricht Scientists track ovarian cancers to site of origin: Fallopian tubes
23.10.2017 | Johns Hopkins Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>