Better Understanding the Heterogeneity of Tinnitus to Improve and Develop New Treatments

The TINNET COST Action is a unique effort and the only international network world-wide focusing on subtyping of tinnitus, the identification of the neuronal correlates of these subtypes and their molecular genetics. The heterogeneity of tinnitus is the major reason for inconsistent results in tinnitus studies, both in neuroimaging studies and clinical trials, and represents the major barrier in the development of innovative and more efficient treatments for tinnitus.

This barrier will be addressed by this COST Action which will identify clinical criteria for pathophysiologically distinct subtypes of tinnitus. The Action will further improve the understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms of the different forms of tinnitus and provide crucial information for the development of innovative hypothesis driven treatment approaches. Thus the Action has high potential impact on many different levels.

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Welcome to TINNET: An Action for Better Understanding the Heterogeneity of Tinnitus to Improve and Develop New Treatments

TINNET Management Committee in Brussels, 19 January 2015

Better Understanding the Heterogeneity of Tinnitus to Improve and Develop New Treatments (TINNET)

Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of an environmental acoustic stimulus. In Europe over 70 million people experience tinnitus and for 7 million it creates a debilitating condition. There are no established treatment approaches available for curing tinnitus. Better treatment is urgently needed. 

Brain research has created a paradigm shift by demonstrating that tinnitus is the consequence of altered neural activity in specific brain networks rather than an ear problem. Based on the understanding of tinnitus as brain disorder, first promising therapeutic approaches have already been developed by individual groups participating in this Action

However further development is hampered by the heterogeneity of tinnitus and limited knowledge about the neuronal underpinnings of the different tinnitus subtypes. 

This Action will foster the establishment of a pan-european multidisciplinary network with the major goal to facilitate (1) the identification of meaningful criteria for tinnitus subtyping, (2) the neurobiological underpinnings of the different tinnitus subtypes and (3) their relevance for response to treatment.  This knowledge is essential for developing of new treatment approaches, their clinical investigation and the speed of translation into marketable products. 

This COST Action intends a stepwise approach which involves identification of (1) meaningful clinical and demographic characteristics for tinnitus subtyping, (2) tinnitus related changes of brain activity in the different forms of tinnitus, (3) intermediate genetic phenotypes for the identification of genetic factors in the pathogenesis of tinnitus and (4) predictors for response to various treatments. This approach requires a coordinated effort from basic scientists, technicians and clinicians of different disciplines working together in ongoing close collaboration.

The STSM Officer has been appointed by the MC and is responsible for the setup of Working Group-independent COST tasks related to scientific communication for maintenance of a COST Action specific website and its regular update, and for the organization of the communication between the SC and the WGs.

This multidisciplinary WG will bring together experts from molecular genetics as well as statistics and bioinformatics, in addition to clinicians with the goal to unify biobanking efforts for tinnitus across Europe, creating a pan-European resource to study the underlying genetic basis of tinnitus.

Main goals of this WG will include the following tasks:

  • Documentation of biobanking efforts (blood) for people with tinnitus and defined controls all over Europe
  • Establishment of SOPs for sample collection, storage and sharing and
  • Establishment of SOPs for genetic analysis of the human genome
  • Search for genetic susceptibility variants predisposing to the different forms of tinnitus by the above mentioned techniques
  • SOPs for statistical analysis of genotypic data and correlation with clinical and neuroimaging data
  • SOPs for gene-gene and gene-environment interaction studies
  • Organization of Short Term Scientific Missions, with a goal to train pre- and postdoctoral scientists in genetic research methodology
  • Preparation and submission of grant proposals to national, European, and international funding agencies, in order to ensure continuous support of studies
  • Implementation of SOPs and results on the COST Action website

TINNET is a European research network funded from April 11, 2014 to April 10, 2018 by the COST program under the Action number BM1306.

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