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Fundamental research

07 - 01 - 2018

Tinnitus: a treatment developed in an animal model works in patients

Millions of people suffer from tinnitus around the world. These parasitic noises related to a dysfunction of the auditory system can be simply annoying or really disabling when they are accompanied with sleep disorders, difficulty concentrating, depression and anxiety.


Treatments generally fail to suppress or reduce tinnitus if they are not related to a lesion that can be cured.


A guinea pig model of tinnitus helped understand the very complex mechanisms of auditory signal processing by the nervous system, its interactions with the sensory system and the disturbances of this system that cause tinnitus.


Researchers were able to imagine and teste a bimodal treatment both auditory and sensitive (skin). This treatment resulted in a reduction of tinnitus in just four weeks in the animal model. Unimodal treatment (only auditory) gave no result.


A double-blinded clinical trial was conducted on two batches of ten patients. These people were given bimodal treatment at home: 30 minutes a day of auditory stimulation (a listener) and cutaneous (a battery on the cheek or the neck). Each person was successively treated or witness, without knowing in what order.



The treatment resulted in an average 12dB decrease in tinnitus by the end of treatment, and two of the twenty participants saw their tinnitus completely disappear.


This bimodal treatment seems to the way to go to treat people who suffer from tinnitus.