UPF is participating in ’PROVIDE’, the European project to find patient-centred solutions for vestibular disorders

The Neurobiology of Sensory Systems group at the MELIS-UPF will train one of its doctoral candidates contributing their expertise in human inner ear organoids and genetic alterations causing vestibular disorders.

’PROVIDE’ is a European project which brings together around twenty partners, including the Neurobiology of Sensory Systems group at the UPF Department of Medicine and Life Sciences (MELIS), to research into "patient-centred care for vestibular disorders". The group led by Berta Alsina will participate in this international doctoral network bringing its expertise in human inner ear organoids and the regulatory elements responsible for hearing loss and vertigo.

The vestibular system monitors and processes information that controls balance and eye movements. It is composed of parts of the inner ear and the region of the brain dealing with sensory information. Loss of inner ear function leads to vestibular disorders that cause a variety of symptoms ranging from dizziness to brain fog, and reduce both quality of life and work capacity.

Some of these symptoms can have a genetic cause. "In the last few years our group has studied specific mutations in developmental genes that cause hearing loss and vertigo", explains Berta Alsina, whose group is part of the ’PROVIDE’ project.

Despite receiving little attention, the different forms of vestibular disorders affect up to one-third of the population, especially women, in whom the disorders are more prevalent and disabling, creating costly health disparities exceeding 6 billion per year in Europe.

To address this situation, the "PROVIDE" project will supply 10 PhD students with cutting-edge training in a wide range of expertise, from computer science through device engineering to clinical practice to understand the etiology of vestibular loss, characterize its symptoms and develop treatments to restore vestibular function.

Being a part of ’PROVIDE’ will allow us to broaden our knowledge in the clinical aspect of vestibular disorders and learn state-of-art techniques to treat them.

"This consortium puts together basic, translational researchers and non-academic partners working in vestibular disorders and health technologies. Being a part of ’PROVIDE’’s doctoral network will allow us to broaden our knowledge in the clinical aspect of vestibular disorders and learn state-of-art techniques to treat them", Alsina concludes.

The ’PROVIDE’ project has a budget of 3.7 million euros. 250,000 of which will be used by MELIS-UPF to hire a PhD candidate.