The British Tinnitus Association (BTA), London, has announced the donation of a record £230,000 (about $360,000) funding grant for a 3-year tinnitus research post at University College London (UCL) Ear Institute in the search for a cure for the condition.

The donation will be used to support a senior research associate post and a small team of researchers, working in a leading multi-disciplinary research facility.

The project aims to lay the foundations of a proper understanding of tinnitus by exploring potential causes at multiple stages of the auditory pathway—with the goal of developing strategies for early diagnosis, identification of susceptible individuals, and ultimately, finding a way to abolish the causes of the debilitating condition.

"At least 10% of the adult population in the UK has tinnitus and it can cause great distress to sufferers and their families," says BTA Chairman Roy Bratby. "The British Tinnitus Association is committed to finding a cure for the condition and we hope that our research funding is the first step towards this crucial goal."

Roland Schaette, an experienced tinnitus researcher, will hold the senior research associate post at UCL. Schaette has written a number of publications on tinnitus and hearing, has extensive experience in researching the auditory system, and has presented at tinnitus conferences across the globe.

Schaette aims to find a comprehensive theory for the development of tinnitus. He hopes to do this by developing an understanding of how hearing loss can lead to tinnitus and find out how to reverse the changes that initially cause the condition. Studies of animals, people currently suffering from tinnitus, and computer models will be used to carry out the research. Schaette will work in close collaboration with a number of experts at the UCL Ear Institute.

"My goal is to understand how hearing loss through damage to the inner ear can lead to tinnitus," Schaette says. "When the auditory system tries to compensate for hearing loss, tinnitus can arise as a side effect. Ultimately we will try to directly revert the changes to alleviate tinnitus and hopefully find new treatments for the condition."

"The BTA’s commitment to funding a research fellowship marks a significant step in the search for a cure for tinnitus," says David McAlpine, professor of auditory neuroscience and director, UCL Ear Institute. "Here at the Ear Institute, we believe that the most fruitful approach to finding a cure lies in understanding how the healthy auditory system works and how it is perturbed by tinnitus. In partnership with the BTA, the Ear Institute will be able to develop a programme of research that brings a wide range of scientific disciplines to bear on the investigation of tinnitus."

[Source: Medical News Today]