Research to probe inner ear disorder

Posted on 28th September 2012

A new research grant confirmed this week will allow the Centre to investigate Ménière’s disease in greater detail.

The funding has been granted by the Ménière’s Society and is hoping to uncover the common characteristics of sufferers of the disease, as well as shedding light on the risk factors associated with its development.

Ménière’s is an inner ear disorder that is long term, progressive, and affects both the balance and hearing functions of the inner ear. It affects approximately 120,000 people in the United Kingdom, and is most commonly diagnosed between 40 and 60 years of age. Symptoms include hearing loss, dizziness and tinnitus – all of which may be worsened by the consumption of too much salt.

Whilst the cause of the disease is unknown, it is believed that both genetic and environmental factors are involved in its development and progression. However, up until now the lack of a large population-based study has prevented a better understanding of Ménière’s and its causes.

Academic lead on the project, Dr Jessica Tyrrell, is aiming to use a new body of data from the UK Biobank to overcome these problems.

The UK Biobank has recruited over half a million people in the UK aged between 40-69 years. The participants have completed detailed questionnaires; undergone various body measures; provided blood, urine and saliva samples for future analysis; and agreed to have their health followed via NHS records.

Within this dataset, over 1,300 people have reported having doctor-diagnosed Ménière’s – providing a unique opportunity to investigate a range of factors associated with Ménière’s in a relatively large group of people with the disease.

Dr Tyrrell said “This study will represent the most comprehensive epidemiological study of Ménière’s sufferers globally and we hope its findings will result in better control of this disease”.

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