19 January 2011

New drug can possibly help tinnitus

A new drug can help ease the discomfort of tinnitus when pumped into the inner ear, according to a recent study.

A powerful new medicine, named NST-001, has proven to be effective in calming the overactive nerves in the inner ear thought to cause tinnitus. Directly pumped into the inner ear, the drug could block the production of excessive glutamate, a brain chemical, which hyperactivates nerve cells. Such hyperactivity occurs, for example, when hearing is damaged in some way, for instance by exposure to loud noise.

At the research stage

Animal research has found that when the drug was placed in the ear, it reduces the sounds of tinnitus. And in a small pilot study on human volunteers in Germany, the majority of patients given the drug reported a significant reduction of tinnitus.

Dr Ralph Holme, director of Biomedical Research at the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, says: “In recent years, there has been research into a number of drugs which aim to reduce the hyperactivity in the brain associated with tinnitus. This particular study is interesting, as it is also testing a new way of administering a drug by pumping it straight into the inner ear.”

Development of a pump

Studies have however also shown that the effect of the drug is only present during the treatment. After which, the tinnitus returns to the previous levels. The researchers are therefore focused on developing a fully integrated drug pump. The pump must have an internal reservoir that will administer the drug for more than a year, after which it will be refilled through the skin via a minor surgical procedure.

This new treatment is primarily meant for patients who have had tinnitus for less than a year, as the treatment must act during the phase when the tinnitus is still only linked to disorders in the internal ear. As of yet, it is unknown whether it will work in well-established tinnitus.

Kilde: www.dailymail.co.uk, AUDIO INFOS, November 2009

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