Study Shows That Experimental Device for Treating Tinnitus Has Promise

Millions of Americans hear ringing in their ears – a condition called tinnitus – and new research shows an experimental device could help quiet the phantom sounds by targeting unruly nerve activity in the brain.

In a new study in Science Translational Medicine, a team from the University of Michigan reports the results of the first animal tests and clinical trial of the approach, including data from 20 human tinnitus patients.

The device is a computerized headset that uses both electrical stimulation to calm the nerves involved in tinnitus as well as auditory feedback.

"The brain, and specifically the region of the brainstem called the dorsal cochlear nucleus, is the root of tinnitus," said Susan Shore, PhD, the U-M Medical School professor who leads the research team. "When the main neurons in this region, called fusiform cells, become hyperactive and synchronize with one another, the phantom signal is transmitted into other centers where perception occurs."

Dr. Shore is a Coulter awardee, and MIAP is helping with the regulatory pathway to eventually get the device approved for marketing. We have already done a pre-submission meeting with the FDA in preparation for the new clinical trial. MICHR provided pilot grant funding for a previous tinnitus study by Dr. Shore.

Read the full  Michigan Medicine article here.