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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in research
Posted by on in General
Autifony QUIET-1 Phase II Tinnitus Trial Terminated

 

Autifony have announced (pdf only) that their AUT00063 Phase II trial for tinnitus has been terminated due to lack of efficacy.

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A great question from the coping with tinnitus community
This weekend, Carmencita de la cerna asked a great question on the Coping With Tinnitus Google+ Group:
 
"Is there a cure for tinnitus? Or do we just have to bear with it? Audiologists say the noise is not in the ears, it's in your head. So what is really the truth?"
 
Here's my answer:
 
"Hi +carmencita de la cerna - those are some good questions there.
 
Firstly, is there a cure for tinnitus? The answer is strictly no at present, but as our understanding of the condition, and the different areas of the brain that are involved improves, we are getting very close.
 
The are some ongoing medical trials of drugs that can prevent noise-induced tinnitus. These work at the level of the brain-stem - currently the side effects are rather unpleasant, so research continues to try to find a variation of a drug that will have more acceptable side effects.
 
As for people who already have tinnitus, it used to be believed that tinnitus was produced in the ear, so many surgeons would cut the auditory (hearing) nerve. The trouble was that most patients still had tinnitus afterwards, so it couldn't have been coming from the ear.
 
The current theory with tinnitus is that it is a reaction in the auditory cortex in the brain to sensorineural hearing loss in the inner ear or auditory nerve. The neurons in the auditory cortex reorganise themselves to concentrate on frequency areas where stimulation from the cochlea still persists. It is usually in the cross-over area between good and bad hearing where tinnitus occurs, as the neuronal reorganisation is imperfect. However, patients with cochlear implants have found that amplitude modulated sound matched to the tinnitus pitch is very effective in retraining the auditory cortex to produce less and less tinnitus. The same effect can also be enjoyed by tinnitus sufferers who still have good hearing or who wear hearing aids.
 
This independent research on amplitude-modulated, pitch-matched tones conducted at the University of California, Irvine has led to a device called the Soundcure Serenade, which modulates the firing of neurons (neuromodulation) in the auditory cortex to reduce or eliminate tinnitus during treatment. Many patients within a very short time get complete relief from their tinnitus, while others get a significant reduction. Around 30% of patients will get limited or no relief from their tinnitus in the short term.
 
Another device, based on treatment for Parkinson's Syndrome, ANM's Acoustic Neuromodulation Coordinated Reset device claims to do a similar job to the SoundCure Serenade, and they are now paying Notiingham University to try to prove its effectiveness (in other words, the only current evidence is anecdotal). It is around double the price of the Serenade, but may help those who don't get relief from the Serenade. Every weapon in the war against tinnitus is welcome as it could potentially provide relief for a sufferer.

For those patients who don't get relief from traditional white noise maskers or neuromodulation devices, they will just have to "bear with it" as you say, but there's more to it than just telling them to "bear with it", "live with it" or just "get used to it". We can teach relaxation techniques, provide person-centered counselling, teach Mindfulness or give Hypnotherapy. All of these can be helpful for tinnitus sufferers to adjust to their condition. Quite often with some help they can accept their condition and move on with their lives."
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Posted by on in Research
The How and Why of Tinnitus

Why Why Why?

Many people ask themselves "Why have I got tinnitus?", "Why did it have to be me?", "Why don't other people hear these sounds?", "What is making this awful sound in my head?"

Research Getting Close To A Cure

Research into the causes and mechanisms of tinnitus is still ongoing, and we are learning more and more about the hows and whys of tinnitus every day. It is a question that has puzzled philosophers and physicians since the time of Socrates, but we are very close to a cure, at least for some people.

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Posted by on in General
More tinnitus drug research news... now with added spin!

I regularly research the latest devices for treating tinnitus as well as what is going on in the drug research world so that I can keep up to date with the latest treatments and give the best advice to my patients. After all, when you are looking for a tinnitus consultant you want to know that the advice they give you is based on current knowledge, not what they learned 20 or 30 years ago. One added benefit is that it can also help predict what treatments may be coming in the next five to ten years. Knowing that pharmaceutical companies are searching for a medical treatment for tinnitus gives hope to many sufferers that one day they'll be able to just take a pill every morning and evening and never again be troubled by distressing noises in their head. The trouble is, many drug trials end up going nowhere because it turns out the side effects are too severe and they can't find a way round them.

I'll give you an example: it has long been known that lidocaine, the same anaesthetic that dentists use to numb your teeth before drilling them, can switch tinnitus off when it is injected intravenously. Now don't go rushing round to your dentist to ask for a shot of lidocaine in your arm. "Why?", I hear you ask. Well, lidocaine has the very serious side effect that it prolongs the heart's QT interval. You may think a prolonged QT interval would be worth it to get even five minutes of relief from your tinnitus, but you'd be wrong. Listen to this description of the QT interval:

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Posted by on in Research
Promising Drug Research To Prevent Noise-Induced Tinnitus

Scientists over at the University of Pittsbburgh (Pitt) School of Medicine have made a breakthrough in the search for a drug to prevent tinnitus after exposure to loud noise.

Thanos Tzounopoulos, Ph.D., associate professor and member of the auditory research group in the Department of Otolaryngology, Pitt School of Medicine says "There is no cure for it, and current therapies such as hearing aids don’t provide relief for many patients,” he said. “We hope that by identifying the underlying cause, we can develop effective interventions".

The team focused on the Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus (DCN), an area of the brain that is an important auditory centre. The DCN has been found in previous tinnitus research on mice to become hyperactive after exposure to loud noise, and fire off random signals even when no sound is present. The new research looked at a particular kind of potassium ion channel, called the KCNQ channel through which potassium ions travel into and out of cells. It turns out that the mice have hyperactive DCN cells because of a reduction in KCNQ potassium channel activity. Normally, these KCNQ channels would act to dampen down the excitability of DCN cells.

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Posted by on in Technology
The Closest Yet To A Cure For Tinnitus?

The London Tinnitus Treatment Clinic are proud to announce that we are now a SoundCure Certified Provider, and can assess and fit patients at our Harley Street consulting rooms. The recommended schedule includes an assessment & fitting, a follow-up after one week, a further follow-up after one month, and then every six months or as the patient requires.

To book an assessment and fitting appointment, please call us on 020 7467 8473.

So, who are SoundCure and what is different about their new device? Other tinnitus sound therapy devices were inspired by theories and then research was formulated to try to demonstrate their effectiveness. The Serenade® on the other hand is a medical device that was born out of research that started in 2006, when researchers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) began working with a patient with a cochlear implant who was suffering from tinnitus. Traditional treatment approaches were attempted, but failed to provide relief. They then applied a pitch-matched amplitude modulated sound, at a comfortable loudness via the patient’s cochlear implant  and discovered that this relieved the patient’s tinnitus–for the first time in two years, all he heard was a calming, pleasant tone produced by the low-rate stimulus. Transferring this technology from a cochlear implant to sounds anyone could hear led to the creation of S-Tones®, the foundation of the SoundCure Serenade® technology.

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Posted by on in Research
New Tinnitus Treatments 2014

What effective new tinnitus treatments are there in 2014?

Prospective patients and sometimes their loved ones often ask me if there have been any effective new tinnitus treatments discovered in 2013, or even if there is a cure for tinnitus yet.

I have to say that 2013 has been a good year for new developments in tinnitus treatment. We have some good evidence on the effectiveness of existing treatments, and some very exciiting new developments that have emerged out of research within the last few years from the University of California.

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