Advancements in the treatment of tinnitus may be on the horizon with the announcement of a new study funded by the National Institutes of Deafness and Other Communicable Disorders (NIDCD), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The clinical trial will study a treatment called vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) using the Serenity System device, manufactured by MicroTransponder, Inc.
Using the concept of a neural monotonic map, a pathway that sends auditory frequencies from the ear to the brain, the study will try and decrease or stop tinnitus through the stimulation of the vagus nerve. The stimulation encourages neuroplasticity through the release of neurotransmitters and prevents neurons from amplifying frequency signals being sent to the brain, thus stopping any ringing sensation. VNS has proven to be an effective treatment method in similar studies in Europe and on lab rats, and in people with epilepsy.
“This trial has the potential to open up a whole new world of tinnitus management,” says Gordon Hughes, MD, director of clinical trials at the NIDCD.