Breakthrough Scientific Discovery Could Lead To Cure Of Tinnitus
A team of scientists in Arizona in the US found that the condition was stopped in mice by blocking a protein which causes brain inflammation.
The team is now hopeful the findings will lead to a cure for the condition and other hearing loss disorders.
Tinnitus, the name for hearing noises that aren't caused by an outside source, can cause ringing or hissing in sufferers ears or head.
It's believed that one in 10 in the UK suffer from the condition, and it is often linked to diabetes, thyroid disorders, multiple sclerosis, Ménière's disease, anxiety, depression and certain types of medication, according to the NHS.
Both of these cells and molecules are known to be involved in neuroinflammatory responses.
The team also identified the tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-A) molecule as a potential cause of neuroinflmmation and tinnitus.
Blocking this molecule in mice, who had been exposed to loud noise for two hours, stopped tinnitus.
Study co-author Dr Shaowen Bao 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."
He added: "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.
"These results implicate neuro-inflammation as a therapeutic target for treating tinnitus and other hearing loss related disorders."
If these findings, published in the PLOS Biology journal, translate over to humans after successful trials, drugs which block TNF-A could become a new treatment for tinnitus.
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