Axis 1 Differentiation, protection and regeneration of the auditory portion of the inner ear
The mammalian inner ear is an unusually complex organ consisting of the vestibule, implicated in balance and equilibrium, and the coiled cochlea, containing the auditory machinery necessary for hearing including the organ of Corti, the spiral ganglion and the stria vascularis. Deafness commonly results from a lesion of the sensory cells of the organ of Corti and/or of the neurons of the auditory part of the inner ear and there are currently no treatment designed to halt or reverse the progression of hearing loss. Therefore, our main goal is to better understand how is regulated the development of the cochlea. Indeed, the same molecules that control organogenesis during development are often involved or activated in response to tissue regeneration after trauma, including in the inner ear. In parallel, prevention of the auditory sensory loss is also investigated.
Axis 2 Unravelling molecular mechanisms that regulate adult neurogenesis and neuronal death
Due to increased life expectancies, age-related neurological disorders, including stroke and neurodegenerative diseases, are becoming a major health care problem in developed countries. Since these disorders are characterized by a neuronal loss, an ideal therapeutic approach would combine 1) the prevention or delay of neuronal death and 2) the replacement of the lost neurons by differentiating endogenous or transplanted neural precursor cells (NPCs) into neurons. Toward this purpose, the goal of our research is to better understand the molecular mechanisms that regulates the generation of neurons and neuronal cell death, the first step towards the identification of new molecular targets to improve brain recovery following stroke or neurodegenerative diseases
Our research is focused on the characterization of the role of cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks) in the endogenous production of neurons in the adult brain (adult neurogenesis) and neuronal death.