The British Tinnitus Association launches its ‘Tackling Tinnitus’ Campaign to Research Further and Find a Cure
|Author: JennyPearce||Published: 12th August 2011 10:27|
Thanks to many donations over the past three years The British Tinnitus Association (BTA), the only UK charity solely dedicated to supporting those with tinnitus, has been able to fund research at University College London's (UCL) Ear Institute, leading to a greater understanding of tinnitus than ever before. Yet it needs to raise a further £127,223 as part of its ‘Tackling Tinnitus' campaign, to carry out further research for a potential treatment.
The research funded by the BTA has previously been undertaken by Dr Roland Schaette, the BTA's Senior Research Fellow, at the UCL Ear Institute, who has tinnitus himself. This work has resulted in huge steps forward in the understanding of tinnitus.
We now know that:
• Tinnitus is associated with changes in the response properties of nerve cells in the first stages of the auditory system, i.e. at the sub-cortical level, and the brain reacts in an abnormal way sending signals from the auditory nerve, thus generating the impression of sound from silence
• Tinnitus patients with apparently normal hearing do in fact have ‘hidden hearing loss', manifesting itself as a reduced signal in the auditory nerve even though the hearing thresholds are normal. The brain compensates for this reduced input and hearing loss at the first processing stages of the auditory pathway
• Hearing loss, more specifically damage to the inner ear, can lead to tinnitus
• There is no single treatment yet for all cases of tinnitus, and the effects of hearing aids and sound treatments are often limited.
Furthermore, Schaette and colleagues also demonstrated that the illusion of sound can also be induced when hearing loss is simulated for several days with an earplug. These findings can be explained by a computer model of tinnitus development, which shows that an attempt of the brain to compensate for hearing loss can explain hyper-excitability and tinnitus.
Roland's current contract is due to come to an end in October but he has put into place a plan for the next two years and designed the investigations he hopes to start, if the funding target is reached. The goal of the research programme is to get a significant step closer to an effective tinnitus treatment.
Continuing this vital research would enable Roland and his team to:
• Investigate how tinnitus is triggered and how it manifests itself in the brain in order to back up how a specific mechanism gives rise to the aberrant nerve cell activity that underlies the tinnitus sensation
• Test the effects of new chemical compounds upon tinnitus, with the ultimate aim of the development of a tinnitus pill
• Research different levels of tinnitus and develop and test treatment approaches
• Develop a computer simulation showing why tinnitus does not always correlate with hearing loss, and why tinnitus may sound different in each individual.
Researchers at the Ear Institute will continue set out to tease apart the details of the mechanisms that give rise to tinnitus, studying tinnitus in humans, animals, and computer models. The plan is to investigate how tinnitus changes information processing in the auditory brain, to test different ways of influencing the response properties of the nerve cells involved in the generation of tinnitus, and to develop and test pharmaceuticals that have the potential to reverse the pathological changes, with the ultimate goal of developing a pill for tinnitus.
The research will use a combined approach that incorporates animal models of tinnitus, computer models of tinnitus generation, investigations in tinnitus patients, and clinical studies.
David Stockdale, CEO at the BTA, said: "Currently the medical profession offers management of tinnitus, but not a cure. For more than 30 years, supporters of the British Tinnitus Association (BTA) have raised funds for medical research that will lead to a cure for tinnitus. Therefore the additional research will give further hope, to people who experience tinnitus, that it can be tackled. No matter how many donations we receive, every penny is crucial and 100 per cent of your donation will go directly towards this vital research. We thank you in advance for any donations made."
To donate to the BTA visit www.tinnitus.org.uk/make-a-donation. You can also text TBTA00 and the amount for free, e.g. TBTA00 £10, to 70070. You can also request a hard copy form from the charity by calling 0114 2509933.
Not an illness or disease, tinnitus is a term that describes the sensation of hearing a noise in the absence of an external sound. The noise can have virtually any quality. Ringing, whistling, and buzzing are common, but more complex sounds may also be reported. Troublesome tinnitus can be very distressing for the affected individual, and issues may arise with sleep, concentration and mood. However, in many cases, subtle changes in people's environment can address these issues, and improve quality of life.
The BTA is an independent charity which supports thousands of people who experience tinnitus and advises medical professionals from across the world.
The British Tinnitus Association strives to be the primary source of support and information for people with tinnitus in the UK, thereby facilitating an improved quality of life. It aims to encourage prevention through its educational programme and to seek a cure for permanent head noise through a medical research programme.
The experienced team at the BTA understands the impact that tinnitus can have on the lives of those who experience tinnitus and those who live with them, so seeks to provides the most appropriate and expert advice and information free of charge - via a confidential freephone helpline on 0800 018 0527 and online at www.tinnitus.org.uk. The BTA can also post printed and audio information and advice.
Visit the BTA's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BritishTinnitusAssociation and follow the BTA on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BritishTinnitus
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