Promotion of research projects
The exact causes of tinnitus and other hearing impairments are not yet clearly understood. For this reason, the Foundation is committed to improving the framework conditions for research in this area and provides funding for research projects. The Scientific Advisory Board reviews the respective applications and makes the decisions. Through its own funds, donations and cooperation with partners, the German Foundation Tinnitus and Hearing Charité has so far been able to provide a total of 885,000 euros for research work, including the research prize.
In cochlea implantation, it is common to use electrodes with a standard length. However, because of the considerable interindividual variation in the geometric dimensions of the cochlea, this procedure is not optimal. Especially for patients with low-frequency residual hearing, an individual selection of the electrode length and an anatomically appropriate fitting are desirable in order to preserve the remaining hearing performance and to improve rehabilitation with a CI.
In the study, CI patients with residual hearing are divided into two groups: One group will receive image-guided electrode selection and anatomy-based fitting, and the control group will be treated with standard electrode and fitting. Quality of life, tinnitus burden and psychological comorbidities of the affected persons are analyzed via validated questionnaires.
The aim of this project is to improve the CI fitting of patients with residual hearing loss by individualized, image-based planning and anatomy-based fitting of the CI with the support of the planning software Otoplan as well as the intraoperative measurement of cochlear microphonics (CM) in patients with residual hearing loss.
The research project is conducted under the direction of Prof. Dr. med. Heidi Olze, Director Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic, Charite – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.
The study covers a three-year period (2023-2025). The German Foundation Tinnitus and Hearing Charité thanks the company MED-EL.
The project summary will follow the completion of the project at the end of 2025.
Tinnitus patients often have accompanying problems such as depression, anxiety, other somatoform symptoms, insomnia or hearing loss. Currently, there are few effective treatments for tinnitus. Those that do exist seem to excel at alleviating the stress associated with the idiosyncratic experience of perception.
The current study is expected to contribute to the new research that focuses on matching therapies to individual psychobiological profiles. In particular, the study aims to,
- To identify biomarkers* associated with tinnitus and co-occurring problems in a clinical sample of tinnitus patient:s,
- Link these biomarkers to psychological measures that assess emotional and behavioral processes thought to contribute to the maintenance of tinnitus distress; and
- To examine changes in biomarkers and behavioral measures after a basic or improved compact multimodal tinnitus-specific cognitive behavioral therapy program.
The project is funded by the HEINZ UND HEIDE DÜRR STIFTUNG for a period of five years (2019 – 2023).
The project summary will follow the completion of the project at the end of 2023.
*Biomarkers are characteristic biological features that can be objectively measured in blood or tissue samples and indicate a normal biological or pathological process in the body.
Today, cochlea implantation is a very successful method of hearing rehabilitation for profoundly deaf and hard of hearing patients. Its benefits also extend to social and psychosocial areas. In addition, tinnitus severity and distress usually improve as well. The basic prerequisite for a successful fitting of a cochlea implant is the functional capability of the peripheral auditory pathway as well as the central auditory processing. Their integrity is tested by an objective auditory nerve function test.
The aim of the study was to precisely quantify the significance of such a test in order to decisively improve the diagnosis of patients with pronounced hearing disorders and often also with tinnitus.
The study was conducted by Prof. Dr. Heidi Olze, Director Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, and spanned a period of three years (2015-2017). The German Foundation Tinnitus and Hearing Charité thanks the company MED-EL.
It is known that emotional stress affects neuronal activity in those areas of the brain that are responsible for emotions, memory and the ability to learn. In contrast, the effects of stress on brain structures responsible for other functions, such as hearing, have not yet been adequately investigated. Preliminary studies suggest that, in the spirit of the research hypothesis, there are indeed links between the stress, emotion, and auditory systems.
Therefore, a particular interest of the project was to link research with clinical practice. This project was a follow-up project to the research project “Influence of stress on the auditory system” completed in 2015. The study was conducted by Prof. Dr. Birgit Mazurek, Tinnitus Center Charité University Medicine Berlin.
The German Foundation Tinnitus and Hearing Charité thanks the HEINZ UND HEIDE DÜRR STIFTUNG for funding the project over a period of two years (2015-2016).
Link to project summary to follow
In research into the possible causes of tinnitus, the search for any genetic predispositions is of particular importance.
In this pilot study, families whose members suffered or currently suffer from tinnitus in previous generations and currently were identified and examined. The aim was to identify the genes that may be causative for the disease in order to decisively improve the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of tinnitus through this research project.
The study was conducted by an international research group led by Prof. Dr. Birgit Mazurek, ENT Molecular Biology Research Laboratory – Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin.
The German Foundation Tinnitus and Hearing Charité thanks the donors for funding the project over a period of two years (2015-2016).
Link to project summary to follow
Tinnitus, the phantom perception of sounds without external auditory stimulation, is a disorder with high prevalence. It poses a serious threat to the psychosocial functioning and quality of life of patients, as well as a socioeconomic burden, because the disease tends to become chronic and comorbid with mental disorders.
Aging is a major risk factor for hearing loss and also tinnitus. In addition to endogenous and exogenous causes, “physiological aging processes” can lead to hearing loss.
Psychosocial factors also play an important role in the genesis and maintenance of tinnitus. Many patients experience increased ringing in their ears during stressful periods in their lives and in situations in which they are mentally unwell.
The pathogenesis of tinnitus is ultimately not fully understood. Since the
length of telomeres (nucleoprotein complexes that protect chromosome ends against degradation, fusion, and recombination) is a biomarker of cell aging and stress, the study examined the following hypotheses:
- Tinnitus patients with severe severity (uncompensated) have shorter telomere lengths than tinnitus patients with mild severity (compensated).
- Tinnitus patients have shorter telomere lengths than age-matched controls.
The study was conducted under the direction of Michael Walter (Institute of Laboratory Medicine, Clinical Chemistry and Pathobiochemistry, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin) with Dr. Birgit Mazurek (Tinnitus Center, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin) as well as Bruno Neuner (Department of Anesthesiology with focus on Operative Intensive Care) and Pim van der Harst (Department of Cardiology, University of Groningen, Netherlands).
The project was funded by the Foundation in 2015.
Link to project summary to follow
The aim of the research project was to investigate the effect of stress on the auditory system of rats. Initial results demonstrated that a 24-hour stress exposure resulted in transient hypersensitivity in the ear; in some species, hearing did not return to baseline even a week later. The scientists therefore suspect that the duration and intensity of stress-induced hearing disorders and changes in the auditory system could depend on the genotype of the animals, for which special preventive measures would then have to be developed as a consequence.
The research project was funded by the HEINZ UND HEIDE DÜRR STIFTUNG for a period of three years (2012-2015).