Potential tinnitus cure may have been found
A tinnitus cure may be looming in the not-so-distant future.
Tinnitus is a hearing condition whereby you hear a buzzing, ringing or throbbing noise in your ear that has not been generated by a usual source.
Around 1 in 10 people in the UK and millions of people around the world suffer from this debilitating condition which is prone to cause stress, sleeplessness, anxiety and hearing loss.
The problem is that without knowing the cause of tinnitus, it is challenging to create a cure for it.
That was the case before scientists made a breakthrough in the condition’s development.
A study published in the journal of PLOS Biology suggests tinnitus is caused by a molecule called TNF-A (tumor necrosis factor alpha) that disrupts communication between neurons.
In the study, scientists managed to stop the condition in rodents (what developed tinnitus after being exposed to loud noise for two hours) by blocking a protein that fuels brain inflammation.
Breakthrough the noise
Study co-author Professor Shaowen Bao from the University of Arizona in the US said: “Genetic knock out of TNF-A or pharmacologically blocking its expression prevented neuro-inflammation and ameliorated the behaviour associated with tinnitus in mice with noise induced hearing loss.”
Dr Bao and his colleagues observed how inflammation that affects the nervous system in the auditory cortex of the brain affects noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus.
He said: “The results indicate noise-induced hearing loss is associated with elevated levels of molecules called proinflammatory cytokines and the activation of non-neuronal cells called microglia – two defining features of neuroinflammatory responses – in the primary auditory cortex.”
Bao added: “These results implicate neuro-inflammation as a therapeutic target for treating tinnitus and other hearing loss related disorders.”
As incredible as the results may be in rodent models, a thorough investigation into possible adverse effects in humans must take place before trials can commence.
Either way, a tinnitus cure may be just around the corner!