The UK-based charity, Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID), has announced that it is funding a tinnitus study at Newcastle University that aims to accelerate the development of future tinnitus treatments. The 3-year, £300,000 project will be led by Mark Cunningham, PhD, at Newcastle University and will involve researchers at the University of Leicester and biotechnology company Autifony Therapeutics Ltd, which is currently conducting a clinical trial of a drug for tinnitus. The researchers hope to bridge the gap between promising laboratory research discoveries and testing new medicines in tinnitus patients.

“The focus of this project is to see if we can use electrical waves in one of the hearing centers of the brain to measure tinnitus, both to discover if the therapy developed by Autifony is working, and how it is having its effect,” said lead researcher Dr Mark Cunningham, Newcastle University. “The use of an animal model of tinnitus will allow us to investigate brainwave activity in the brain’s hearing centers and develop a biological measure which can be used on patients in the clinic, as well as future research.”

According to Action on Hearing Loss, 6 million people in the United Kingdom are affected by tinnitus every day. Tinnitus, a condition that produces mild to severe symptoms ranging from a slight buzzing in the ears to a constant roar, is reported to have a detrimental effect on the quality of life for at least 600,000 of those affected. Patients who suffer from severe tinnitus can experience bouts of anxiety, difficulties socializing, and problems with sleeping or concentration.

“Tinnitus is a debilitating condition for which there is no cure, but real progress is being made towards understanding the mechanisms behind the condition, giving us hope that effective treatments can be found,” said Ralph Holme, PhD, head of biomedical research at Action on Hearing Loss. “Currently, the search for new treatments is being slowed down because it is very hard to know if the effects of potential new treatments seen in animal studies are relevant to tinnitus in humans. Our new project has the potential to overcome this barrier, speeding up the development of urgently needed treatments.”

Action on Hearing Loss runs a donor-supported hearing research program that is dedicated to funding research that explores improved treatments and cures for hearing loss and tinnitus. More information about the charity’s Biomedical Research Program may be found on the Action on Hearing Loss website. An October 21, 2014 article in Hearing Review covered other research from Action on Hearing Loss and Newcastle University.

Source: Action on Hearing Loss