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MuteButton receives funding to trial tinnitus treatment device

Irish start-up MuteButton has secured a €200,000 (£180,000) investment from Enterprise Ireland to accelerate large-scale clinical trials of its tinnitus treatment device and grow its staff to 20 by 2013 as the device nears market release.

MuteButton was established in 2010 by Dr Ross O’Neill, as a spin-out company from the Hamilton Institute, NUI Maynooth, where the technology, a novel medical device to successfully treat people suffering from permanent tinnitus, was originally developed by O’Neill, Dr Paul O’Grady and Prof Barak Pearlmutter.

The company has recently located to NovaUCD, the Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre at University College Dublin (UCD), to develop collaborative partnerships with UCD researchers working on neurological conditions.

Tinnitus, commonly referred to as ‘ringing in the ears’, is the perception of an illusory low-level sound in the absence of a corresponding external stimulus to the ear.

Temporary tinnitus, which can be caused by excess fluid or wax in the ear or short-term exposure to loud noises, can be cured. However, permanent tinnitus, which is caused by intense or prolonged exposure to noise, and which is often associated with hearing loss, cannot be cured. It can have a negative effect on the quality of life of sufferers and can lead to insomnia and depression. In addition, no effective treatment for this form of tinnitus is currently available on the market.

MuteButton has developed a non-invasive device that treats the effects of permanent tinnitus. The device, the size of an iPod or iPhone, presents sound to the ear using normal headphones and simultaneously presents this sound as tactile patterns on the tongue using an intra-oral array. This results in neurological mechanisms within the brain suppressing the ringing in the ears of the sufferer for a period of hours.

‘This investment by Enterprise Ireland marks a significant milestone for the company,’ said O’Neill, chief executive officer of MuteButton. ‘It is another step towards the development of an effective treatment for a medical condition that is currently considered untreatable.

‘This investment will enable the company to carry out large-scale clinical trials of the MuteButton device later this year with our clinical collaborator Brendan Conlon, surgical ear, nose and throat specialist at St James’s Hospital, Dublin,’ he added.


Readers' comments (10)

  • How does this compare to the , also non invasive, vagus nerve stimulation treatment currently being trialled?
    Also is this treatment for people with perfect hearing ( apparently no hearing damage like myself)

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  • Encouraging to learn of any studies aimed at finding help for this incessant ringing in my head. Yes, I said head, as after many years this is not just perceived in an ear but my entire head. I have constant high pitched noise that never lessens in it's intensity.

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  • Is this treatment / device similar to one from Neuronomic Tinnitus treatment already in the market ?
    Thanks

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  • I would like to be included in the trials

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  • MuteButton says it plans to conduct large scale treatment studies in late 2011/early 2012. The planned studies are currently confined to clinics in Dublin, Ireland but may extend to further clinics in the future. The company says that if you are a Tinnitus sufferer and wish to participate in a MuteButton treatment study, then contact them at: info@mutebutton.ie

  • Put me on your email list to track results.

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  • MuteButton says it plans to conduct large scale treatment studies in late 2011/early 2012. The planned studies are currently confined to clinics in Dublin, Ireland but may extend to further clinics in the future. The company says that if you are a Tinnitus sufferer and wish to participate in a MuteButton treatment study, then contact them at: info@mutebutton.ie

  • The MuteButton sounds very interesting to me. I have suffered tinnitus for over 20 years and I long for a device to turn off the tinnitus and restore my quality of life. I am interested in receiving more information or perhaps get involved in testing?

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  • I hope this works. I would be happy to participate in the test.

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  • I am glad to see interest in helping tinnitus sufferers, such as myself, get relief from the constant ringing in their ears. I have had tinnitus for so long (35 yrs) that most of the time I don't notice it. That doesn't mean that it doesn't bother me, and it would be fantastic to have a remedy, if not a cure!

    However, after reading about the remedy, I can't help but imagine that at this stage of development the device doesn't really do what I would like it to. That is, eliminate the ringing so I can hear everything better, rather than reduce or eliminate the ringing for a time just to get relief from the ringing. After all, if I have to wear headphones in order to accomplish this, how does that improve my hearing? Did I misunderstand the article in this regard?

    After the "...neurological mechanisms within the brain suppresses the ringing in the ears..." does that mean that the device can then be removed while the effects last for a certain number of hours? The article isn't clear on that.

    I hope this leads to a technology that can truly cure tinnitus, and I applaud your efforts!

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  • Drug companies who manufactured and marketed certain Malaria prevention medication should be first in the queue of contributing investors supporting this endeavor. Tinnitus was and is a known side effect of this medication which nevertheless continued to be prescribed - I've always been surprised at the lack of litigation in this regard.

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  • How does someone get included in this trial?

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  • MuteButton says it plans to conduct large scale treatment studies in late 2011/early 2012. The planned studies are currently confined to clinics in Dublin, Ireland but may extend to further clinics in the future. The company says that if you are a Tinnitus sufferer and wish to participate in a MuteButton treatment study, then contact them at: info@mutebutton.ie

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