A center for fundamental and medical research into hearing, created by the Fondation Pour l'Audition and the Institut Pasteur
The Hearing Institute, an Institut Pasteur center, is an interdisciplinary fundamental and medical research center with the objective of promoting integrative approaches to auditory neuroscience and developing innovative diagnostic tools and preventive and curative treatments for hearing disabilities.
It was created with support and funding from the Fondation Pour l'Audition.
Hearing impairment, a major public health issue
Hearing impairment is the most frequent sensorineural defect in humans. Its severity is highly variable and it may begin at any age. Hearing impairment deprives people of the social interactions afforded by speech perception, and this often leads to feelings of isolation and depression. World Health Organization (WHO) figures indicate that 500 million people worldwide suffer from disabling hearing impairment. Six million are affected in France alone. Based on WHO estimates, hearing loss will be ranked 7th among non-lethal diseases in the DALY (disability-adjusted life year) rankings by 2030. By 2050, 900 million people will have hearing loss. This increase can be explained by longer life expectancy and the damage to the auditory system caused by overexposure to noise, which is becoming much more frequent, due to greater urbanization and the poorly regulated acoustic environments to which young people expose themselves, especially in recreational settings.
1. To carry out high-quality fundamental research to elucidate the principles and mechanisms underlying:
- The development and functioning of the auditory system.
- Auditory perception and cognition.
- Communication through sound.
- Multisensory integration.
- Interactions between the genome and the acoustic environment, etc.
2. To develop translational approaches facilitating:
- An understanding of the pathogenesis of sensorineural hearing loss, whether occurring in isolation or as part of a syndrome or a general disease, particularly for neurodegenerative diseases.
- The development of multiparametric tools for diagnosing hearing impairments affecting the auditory sensory organ, the cochlea, its innervation or its central region, for precision medicine.
- The development of innovative therapeutic approaches (pharmacological and gene therapies, and probably also cell therapy in the near future) for children, young adults and older individuals. These approaches will also address balance problems (due to defects of the vestibule, a sensory organ that together with the cochlea, which it resembles, forms the inner ear).
- The development of auditory rehabilitation based on advances in scientific knowledge, including an understanding of the mechanisms underlying auditory cortex plasticity, in particular.
3. To transmit the knowledge generated at the institute to the international medical, paramedical and scientific community, to inform those with hearing loss of the potential impact of any discoveries, and to raise awareness among the general public of the issues associated with hearing impairment.
See the disease fact sheet about hearing disabilities
(only in French for the moment)