Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tinnitis is Solved

Tinnitis is one of those ailments that will never kill you, but degrade your enjoyment of life to the point of extremis.  Victims struggle to conduct a normal life and rarely share the ailment with anyone.  This shows us the real numbers and it is huge.

The take home today is that it appears to be outright solved.  A device is been made to work with the problem and full clinical trials will be underway shortly.

There are many worse problems, but getting rid of this one is a major advance.  We will take it.

How high-pitched music could cure tinnitus by 're-booting' the brain

Last updated at 8:48 AM on 13th January 2011

Scientists may have developed a cure for tinnitus, the persistent ringing in the ears that blights the lives of hundreds of thousands of Britons.

In tests, researchers were able to stop the irritating noises by stimulating a nerve in the neck while playing a high-pitched tone into the ears.

The technique – which ‘reboots’ the brain – has been successfully tested on rats. Clinical trials on humans are due to start in the next few months.

Around one in ten adults in the UK suffers from permanent tinnitus and around 600,000 have it badly enough to affect their quality of life. 

It can affect one or both ears and is usually described as a ringing noise, although it can also take the form of high pitched whines, rattling, low beeps or a rushing sound.

Tinnitus is often triggered by exposure to loud noise, which destroys cells in the inner ear that transmit sound signals to the brain.

Scientists believe the brain tries to compensate for the missing signals, leading to phantom sounds. Other causes of tinnitus include injury and normal ageing.

The American researchers carried out experiments on tinnitus-affected rats designed to trigger changes in the ‘auditory cortex’ – the part of the brain that responds to sound.

By electrically stimulating the vagus nerve – a large nerve running from the head and neck to the abdomen – with a small electrode at the same time as playing a high-pitched sound, they banished tinnitus from the rats.

Treated rats showed responses that indicated the ringing in their ears had stopped, the journal Nature reported yesterday. Animals that did not receive the therapy continued to display signs of tinnitus.

Did you hear that? Tinnitus can affect one or both ears and is usually described as a ringing noise, although it can also take the form of high pitched whines, rattling, low beeps or a rushing sound

Study leader Dr Michael Kilgard, from the University of Texas at Dallas, said: ‘The key is that, unlike previous treatments, we’re not masking tinnitus, we’re not hiding the tinnitus.

We are retuning the brain from a state where it generates tinnitus to a state that does not generate tinnitus. We are eliminating the source of the tinnitus.’

When the vagus nerve is stimulated it releases chemicals that can alter brain circuitry.

Patients taking part in the human trial in Europe will undergo vagus nerve stimulation paired with sounds at daily treatment sessions over several weeks.

The stimulation will be delivered by a wireless electrode surgically attached to the left vagus nerve. The device was developed by MicroTransponder, a U.S. biotech firm.

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