This is going to be the first of a series of blogs looking at the latest research that’s happening around tinnitus, getting some thoughts and insights from the BTA and what we're doing - and also to give a bit of an overview of what we're thinking and what we’re working on as well.

I thought I’d start this blog by just reflecting on the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO) Annual Midwinter Meeting which happened last week in Baltimore. It was the first time I’d been to the meeting and actually it was huge! A few people were telling me it was quite small for this sort of scientific meeting, but it had over 3,000 delegates there, over 170 podium presentations and over 1,000 posters were presented, so it was really huge from a tinnitus perspective, compared to what you would typically see at a tinnitus conference.

There were three big take homes for me. One was how engaged biotech was with the basic science that this level. There was a real merging between the biotech companies - who were looking for biomarkers and looking at different compounds and how they might work  - and also the basic science, which was also trying to identify potential targets for both tinnitus and hearing loss therapies and to get a better understanding of where these targets might exist and how a drug might impact on them.

Another was that everyone was interested in tinnitus. People understand it’s market potential, the market size, that it’s a huge issue for people living with tinnitus, and that there’s a need - an urgent need - to look for and to evaluate a drug. People also understood the challenges - and these aren’t challenges that are new to us, these are ones that the people very much acknowledge:

  • the need for sub-typing of tinnitus to reduce the heterogeneity of tinnitus
  • the need for biomarkers and
  • the need for objective measures.

This was a real theme in terms of discussing tinnitus throughout the conference.

I think another important comparison for me though was the disconnect there seems to be between the tinnitus research conferences that are out that solely focus on tinnitus and the community that attended ARO. There’s not a lot of overlap and it is a little bit concerning that you don't see the same engagement from biotech companies with those tinnitus research focused conferences. I think how to change this is something we really need to consider. To really have an impact, we need to make sure that these two communities better fuse and better work together in the future, because it's certainly something that seemed to be lacking here.

My final take home message from this conference was the depth and breadth of research that's happening across tinnitus and hearing loss. It was inspiring and really good to see those relationships between industry and academia forging forward and looking at how do we approach this in a different way in the future.

I’m certainly left feeling really motivated and fired up. I made a lot of new contacts and people to potentially work with and explore partnerships with, to look at how we work together to look for a future where no one suffers from tinnitus.