Menieres Research Fund Inc.

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  • Menieres Research Fund Inc.
  • Menieres Research Fund Inc.
  • Menieres Research Fund Inc.
  • Menieres Research Fund Inc.
  • Menieres Research Fund Inc.
  • Menieres Research Fund Inc.
  • Menieres Research Fund Inc.
  • Menieres Research Fund Inc.
  • Menieres Research Fund Inc.

Mukherjee & Brown GP&RWF grant

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December 2013

Dr Payal Mukherjee and Dr Daniel Brown were recently awarded a Conjoint Grant from Garnett Passe & Rodney Williams Foundation to investigate the issues relating to providing a cochlear implant to patients who have undergone a Vestibular Labyrinthectomy (surgical destruction of their balance organ to relieve chronic vertigo). Traditionally, it was thought that a labyrinthectomy left the cochlear nerve severely damaged and unable to be stimulated by a cochlear implant, and as such, these patients (who lose their hearing after the procedure) were not thought to be candidates for receiving a cochlear implant. However, in the last 5-6 years surgeons have begun re-thinking this adage and have begun implanting some select labyrinthectomy patients with a cochlear implant, with good results. Drs Mukherjee and Brown aim to use animal models to help investigate some of the issues that surround providing labyrinthectomy patients with a cochlear implant (such as unwanted bone-growth etc...).

 

Light Sheet Microscope

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January 2014

Using funds raised by the Meniere’s Research Fund Inc., and more specifically, by Lachlan Cameron who ran the river Rhine in 2013, the Meniere’s Research Laboratory has built the first “Light Sheet Fluorescence Microscope” in Australia. This type of microscope allows the research team to virtually “section” through the inner ear, taking 1000s of high-resolution images which can then be re-constructed to produce a 3D image of the ear. The technique involves first making an ear ‘optically-transparent’ using chemicals, and then passing the inner ear tissue en bloc through a thin (5 micron) 2D sheet of laser light, which only illuminates  a single 2D slice of the tissue at any one time, which can then be imaged using a high-resolution camera.

The team is currently using this camera to image the changes in the volume of endolymph in their experimental models of Endolymphatic Hydrops. Prior to using this microscope, they had to rely on either histological sections (i.e. physically slicing up the ear and then viewing each slice under a traditional microscope – which is both inaccurate with respect to the inner ear morphology, and laborious), or they had to use high-resolution Xray Micro-CT imaging (which produces similar results as those obtained by the light-sheet microscope, but was expensive to perform).

The new Light-Sheet Microscope will allow the team to more effectively investigate the causes of Endolymphatic Hydrops, and they are also hoping to incorporate techniques that will allow them to use ‘fluorescent biomarkers’ to quantify the biochemical changes that occur within the inner ear during endolymphatic hydrops development.

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Breaking News

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"Dizzy No More?"

WHAT'S NEW?

16 May 2013 - Emeritus Professor W P R  Gibson AM resigned as President to become Secretary. Mr Leo Tutt was appointed President. By unanimous agreement of the Committee.

The 2013 Fund Raising Appeal was launched  at the end of April 2013.

25 January 2013 - Dr Yasuhiro Chihara following completion of his two year appointment to the Meniere’s Research team, was farewelled prior to his departure to Japan and to an appointment in Singapore. He will be sadly missed as his contribution was greatly appreciated.

4 December  2012 -  Several donors contributed to a scholarship fund to be named “The Bruce Kirkpatrick Meniere’s Research Scholarship Fund”. The annual award of a prize for the best essay on this research will be determined by a committee chaired by Emeritus Professor W P R  Gibson AM.

27 January 2013 - Laboratory Research: The Ménière's Research laboratory at The University of Sydney, headed by Dr Daniel Brown, was successful in landing a National Health & Medical Research Committee project grant award, for $307,000 to help them continue with their experimental animal work in the laboratory. Furthermore, the group's collaborative research with Prof Ian Curthoys from the University of Sydney also landed a $300,000 "Garnett Passe & Rodney Williams Foundation" project grant. These grants will enable the Ménière's research group to continue their research into the physiological mechanisms underlying the primary symptoms of Ménière's. The group have already published 2 scientific papers in 2013, with 2 more currently under editorial review, and several more in the publication pipeline.

Brown DJ, Chihara Y, Curthoys IS, Wong Y, Bos M. 2013. Changes in cochlear function during acute endolymphatic hydrops development in guinea pigs. Hearing Research, 296, 96-106 Chihara Y, Wong Y, Curthoys IS, Brown DJ. 2013. The effect of systemic administration of desmopressin on cochlear function in guinea pigs. Acta Otolaryngologica, in publication.

This funding and publication success comes on the back of the group's recent discovery and demonstration first, that the systemic anti-diuretic hormone vasopressin has little impact on cochlear and vestibular function in laboratory animals, and second, that abrupt changes in both cochlear and vestibular function occur during experiments designed to mimic the development of endolymphatic hydrops (the hallmark of Ménière's Disease). This later research demonstrated episodes of hearing recovery along with vestibular dysfunction. Previous researchers had theorized that such an event would occur if the endolymphatic compartment of the inner ear ruptured with hydrops: the so called "Rupture theory" of Ménière's vertigo attacks. However, the Ménière's research team provided evidence that there is no rupture, but instead, the functional changes may be related to a sudden opening of physiological valves that separate the hearing organ (the cochlea) from the balance organ (the vestibular system). To visualize structural changes in the inner ear causing what the group believes to be similar to a Ménière's vertigo attack, they used high resolution X-Ray imaging of the inner ear, along with a kind of dye to demonstrate conclusively that severe endolymphatic hydrops does not cause a rupture.

These results do at least two things for us; they provide a clearer picture of what is happening in a Ménière's sufferer's ear, and they also identify fundamental mechanisms in the ear that regulate endolymph volume, such as protein channels which open when the endolymphatic compartment swells. The group believes the pathology of these fluid regulation mechanisms is the cause of Ménière's Disease. Now that they have a way of monitoring the function of these mechanisms in the ear when they are stressed, the next phase of the Ménière's group's research will be to test drugs and treatments aimed directly at manipulating these physiological mechanisms. This will hopefully provide an effective cure for endolymphatic hydrops and Ménière's.

Clinical Trials: Over the last year and a half, the Ménière's Research Laboratory at The University of Sydney has been investigating the feasibility of running a clinical trial to test if antiviral drugs can provide an effective treatment for Ménière's symptoms. While the group still aims to perform such a trial, there have been several hurdles to overcome, primarily due to the difficulty and expense of running placebo-controlled drug trials such as these, particularly given the fluctuating nature of Ménière's Disease which will ultimately require numerous sufferers to be treated, each over the course of a full year. The Ménière's Research group is now looking for additional funding to engage the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre to redesign and oversee the progress of the trial. For more information on the progress of the clinical trial, keep an eye on the Ménière's Research Fund Inc. website, or contact Prof William Gibson or Dr Daniel Brown at The University of Sydney.

Dr Chihara: Dr Yasuhiro Chihara (or "Yas") finished his 2 year sponsored work VISA contract with The University of Sydney at the end of January 2013, returning to Japan briefly with his wife Yoshie and 3 children (including 5 month old Yoshihro - born in Sydney) before he is expected to take up a new clinical position in Singapore. It has been an extremely fruitful 2 years with Dr Chihara at the Ménière's laboratory, with the group already publishing several papers and with numerous more in the works. The Ménière's laboratory will continue to collaborate with Dr Chihara for many years to come, as we wish him all the best for his new placement in Singapore.


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AUSTRALIAN DONORS

If you are an Australian taxpayer, a tax deductable donation to us means you give to the Fund and claim a refund from the Australian Tax Office.  International donors seeking a tax deduction should check with their local advisors that Sydney University Medical Foundation's charitable status is recognised by that country.  

USA DONORS

For USA donations, the University of Sydney USA Foundation provides a tax advantaged way for USA taxpayers to support Meniere’s research at the University of Sydney by donating to our Fund.  The foundation is incorporated in Washington, DC as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) charitable organisation. Gifts to the Foundation can be claimed as tax deductions by US taxpayers.  US donators, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with an instruction to direct your donation to The Menieres Research Fund, your preferred method of payment and information required to have the claimable receipt forwarded to you.  Alternately, write or telephone, The University of Sydney USA Foundation, PO Box 3906, Ithaca, NY 14852-3906. Phone: + 1 410 733 9444

UK DONORS

The Friends of the University of Sydney UK Trust allows alumni and friends residing in the UK to support the University of Sydney through tax-advantaged giving. Gifts to the trust are tax deductible for UK residents on both income and estate taxes. Donations can be made to the Trust online (http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/finalCharityHomepage.action?charityId=1002564) or by contacting the Trust at Friends of the University of Sydney UK Trust, Administration Manager,The Britain-Australia Society, 59 Buckingham Gate, London UK SW1E 6AJ Phone: +44 (0)20 7630 1075 Fax: +44 (0)20 7828 2260 Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Whether donating on-line or by other means, please specify that you wish your donations to be used for Meniere’s research at the University of Sydney – Sydney Medical School Foundation

Click the interviews below to hear about the coming years.

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WE HAVE RAISED AUS$1.6m SINCE 2003 AND SPENT AUS$928,639 ESTABLISHING OUR RESEARCH FACILITY

We have updated our target thermometer (at right).  The Fund announces today (16 April 2012) that after having established the laboratory and employed 2 full time trained research staff, it has lifted its total funds raised target to $AUS2.5m, up from $AUS1.5m. The additional money, when raised will be directed to broaden the lines of inquiry.  Since the start of the year, AUS$161,945 in donations and grants have been received by the Fund to assist us in our quest for a cure for Meniere's Disease. 

 


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President’s Message,

Meniere’s Disease has devastating effects on the lives of those afflicted and on those who
care for them. Working lives are disrupted and careers brought to an end. The normally
ordered and busy lives of otherwise healthy people, suddenly become totally unreliable.
The unresolved questions surrounding the condition have been tackled for nearly 150
years without finally identifying the cause and a possible cure. While medical and
surgical advances to alleviate the affliction have been encouraging, the Meniere’s
Research Fund Inc (the Fund), a not for profit fund raising group run by volunteers
established in 2002 as a development from the Meniere’s Support Group of NSW
(now disbanded), has been stepping up the research effort. The support work across
Australia is now the responsibility of Meniere’s Australia Inc.
The research program developed by the Professorial Research Committee of the Fund has  explored new areas of
the inner ear. Dr Yasuhiro Chihara, who joined us in April 2011, has been working with Dr Daniel Brown, our initial
Research Fellow, on trials using Vasopressin to asses its effect on creating hydrops (swelling of endolymph fluid
thought to underlie the cause of MD attacks). Another exciting area to be explored, perceived by both Mr Stephen
Spring and Professor Gibson, is now on the cusp of new trials to validate or disprove the suppressive effect of a
known drug not previously successfully administered elsewhere.
Our aim is to build up a strong research team in Sydney, to explore and build on the findings from Meniere’s
research being carried out by scientists in Australia and other countries. We have been able to recruit our team
due to the support we have received from our generous donors.
We are confident that with your help in maintaining and expanding the world’s first
laboratory dedicated entirely to studying Meniere’s Disease, established here at the
Brain and Mind Research Institute, our program will lead to enhanced early detection,
preventative strategies and superior treatments sufficiently alleviating the condition to
make sufferers able to again lead a relatively normal life.

Meniere’s Disease has devastating effects on the lives of those afflicted and on those who care for them. Working lives are disrupted and careers brought to an end. The normally ordered and busy lives of otherwise healthy people, suddenly become totally unreliable.

The unresolved questions surrounding the condition have been tackled for nearly 150 years without finally identifying the cause and a possible cure. While medical and surgical advances to alleviate the affliction have been encouraging, the Meniere’s Research Fund Inc (the Fund), a not for profit fund raising group run by volunteers established in 2002 as a development from the Meniere’s Support Group of NSW (now disbanded), has been stepping up the research effort. The support work across Australia is now the responsibility of Meniere’s Australia Inc.

The research program developed by the Professorial Research Committee of the Fund has  explored new areas of the inner ear. Dr Yasuhiro Chihara, who joined us in April 2011, has been working with Dr Daniel Brown, our initial Research Fellow, on trials using Vasopressin to asses its effect on creating hydrops (swelling of endolymph fluid thought to underlie the cause of MD attacks). Another exciting area to be explored, perceived by both Mr Stephen Spring and Professor Gibson, is now on the cusp of new trials to validate or disprove the suppressive effect of a known drug not previously successfully administered elsewhere.

Our aim is to build up a strong research team in Sydney, to explore and build on the findings from Meniere’s research being carried out by scientists in Australia and other countries. We have been able to recruit our team due to the support we have received from our generous donors.

We are confident that with your help in maintaining and expanding the world’s first laboratory dedicated entirely to studying Meniere’s Disease, established here at the Brain and Mind Research Institute, our program will lead to enhanced early detection, preventative strategies and superior treatments sufficiently alleviating the condition to make sufferers able to again lead a relatively normal life.

Bruce Kirkpatrick OAM
President

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