Every patient with tinnitus knows how frustrating and debilitating the ringing sound in one’s ear can be. More than 50 million Americans suffer from this hearing loss-related condition but there’s still no said treatment that works for everyone. However, the University of Arizona seems to be closing in on a potential new cure.
Tinnitus has proven to be a tough condition for doctors. It’s not always known how it develops, but in the new breakthrough study, the scientists suggest it could be caused by a molecule called tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-A ). They worked on mice that developed tinnitus (after being exposed to loud noise for two hours) and found that by knocking out a protein that triggers brain inflammation, the mice no longer showed signs of tinnitus. And the same result was obtained when TNF-A was blocked using drugs in another set of mice.
Professor Shaowen Bao, a co-author of the study said, “Genetic knock out of TNF-A or pharmacologically blocking its expression prevented neuroinflammation and ameliorated the behavior associated with tinnitus in mice with noise induced hearing loss.”
While the goal is to be able to develop a pill that can block the same proteins that cause tinnitus, there is still a need for thorough investigations to be conducted before the treatment is applied to humans.
Bao, who is also a neuroscientist at the University of Arizona added, “Hearing loss is a widespread condition that affects approximately 500 million individuals, and is a major risk factor for tinnitus – the perception of noise or ringing in the ears.”
However, it’s important to remember that there are still a lot of ways to protect our ears from noise-induced hearing loss. One of the easiest ways is to wear earplugs during concerts, or at workplaces which are typically loud in nature.
The research was published in the journal PLOS Biology.