Animal model testing of an epilepsy drug has shown promise in treating tinnitus from developing after exposure to noise. The research conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study focused on an auditory centre in the brain called the dorsal cochlea nucleus (DCN). From previous research in mice, they knew that tinnitus is associated with hyperactivity of DCN cells which fire impulses even when there is no actual sound to perceive. For the new experiments, the team took a close look at the biophysical properties of tiny channels, called KCNQ channels, through which potassium ions travel in and out of the cell.
According to DR Thanos Tzounopoulos “We found that mice with tinnitus have hyperactive DCN cells because of a reduction in KCNQ potassium channel activity, these KCNQ channels act as effective brakes that reduce excitability of activity of neuronal cells”.
The researchers found that mice that were treated with retigabine immediately after noise exposure did not develop tinnitus. Consistent with previous studies, 50 percent of noise-exposed mice that were not treated with the drug exhibited behavioural signs of the condition.
If such a medicine can be utilised it will be extremely welcomed by many people who suffer from tinnitus. Further studies and human trials present future hurdles which must be successfully overcome before any tinnitus relief can be delivered from retigabine. If tinnitus is proving problematic for you then why not contact our audiologist today 01494 765144 and see if we can help.