Over 60 million of citizens in the EU suffer from hearing loss with its associated restrictions. In severe cases, hearing can only be restored by surgically implanting a neuroprosthesis called cochlear implant, which directly stimulates the auditory nerve.
The bottleneck for optimal stimulation is caused by the anatomical gap between the electrode array and the auditory neurons in the inner ear. As a consequence, current devices are limited through (i) low frequency resolution, hence poor sound quality and (ii), strong signal amplification, hence high energy consumption responsible for significant battery costs and for impeding the development of fully implantable systems. Recent findings indicate that auditory nerve fibres can grow under neurotrophin stimulation towards the electrodes, which opens the door to address all issues simultaneously.

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The NANOCI Project is funded under the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union.