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Royal visit highlights hearing loss research

Posted on 11/02/2014

HRH The Duke of York visited two research projects at The Ear Institute funded by us

Dr Jagger shows The Duke of York a human cochlea.

HRH The Duke of York, our Patron, met with our Chief Executive, our Head of Biomedical Research and leading scientists to discuss pioneering biomedical investigations into hearing loss.

The research projects, based at University College London’s Ear Institute (external link, opens new window) and funded by us, aim to explore the impact of loud noise on fruit flies, which share molecular and mechanistic overlap with hearing in vertebrates; and to map nerve fibres of the inner ear, which will enable future refinement of cochlear implants.

The cost of underinvestment

It’s estimated that the treatment and management of hearing loss currently costs the NHS more than £200 million a year.

In the next two decades, the number of people with hearing loss is expected to rise by 50%; putting the condition in the UK’s top 10 disease burdens, above cataracts and diabetes. Yet, for every person with hearing loss, just £1.34 is spent on research: ten times less than sight loss (£14.21) and a fraction of the spend on diabetes’ research (£21.31).

Public and not-for-profit organisations, like us, fund almost half of health-related research, offering crucial investment in discovery research and preclinical development; with private and pharmaceutical organisations funding the remainder. However the gap between research findings and clinical application means that, of the 7,500 drugs in development worldwide, only 18 are marked for hearing problems.

Following The Duke’s visit, our Chief Executive, Paul Breckell, said; “We are delighted that His Royal Highness has been able to visit our work today and sincerely hope that his support will help raise awareness of this often-ignored area of health research.

“Currently, there are no treatments or cures for hearing loss or tinnitus, despite the increasingly large number of people, both old and young, who suffer from these conditions.

“Hearing loss, if undiagnosed or mismanaged, can increase vulnerability to social isolation, depression and reduce employment opportunities. Investment in research to prevent hearing loss and restore hearing has the potential to not only improve the quality of life for millions of people across the UK, but save the economy millions of pounds.”

Find out more

You can find out more information about our all our areas of biomedical research, and our scientists.

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