"Dizzy No More?"
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.
16 April 2012 - The Fund is launching the 2012 Appeal next month. In view of our plan to conduct an extensive series of trials shortly, it is hoped that the excellent response to the 2011 Appeal, which resulted in donations over $400,000 being received, will be at least equalled this year. The generosity and spirit in which the donations have arrived from around the world allows the researchers at the Fund to open up new lines of inquiry sooner. Our sincere thanks to all those who contributed. We will update our cureplan and post details here shortly. Donation forms are being mailed in time for a tax deduction this tax year or can be downloaded here. For those not on our mailing list, please contact us by clicking here or the Fund will accept your tax deductable donation on-line and by other means by clicking the "donate now" button to your right.
21 June 2011 - FUNDRAISING - Meniere's Resources Inc are a registered USA not for profit Meniere's support group. They have started a fundraising initiave to sell wristbands and accept donations to assist our research. The link can be found here http://www.shopmenieresresources.highpowersites.com/research_fundraiser.html
Some supporters have expressed concern about trials that are being proposed to be undertaken using a TGA approved drug to test its effectiveness as a suppressant of Meniere's disease. The trials will be in accordance with Ethics Committee approvals.
Facebook - Join our community online and share your ideas, experiences and suggestions for ways we could advance our search for a cure.
2012 Fund Raising Appeal - see, hear and read interviews of our key people talk about our research programme.
1 May 2012 UPDATE - The Fund is pleased to announce that our annual appeal has commenced. Please give to help fund our exciting research.
Click here for our updated booklet illustrating our work and our targets, what sufferers experience, the budget for 2012 and why we need your help.
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.
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.
Click here for an audio transcript
Click here for an audio transcript
Click here for an audio transcript
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.
OUR RESEARCH TEAM IS EXPANDING
The Fund is pleased to welcome the arrival of Yasuhiro Chihara (‘Yas’) of Kameda Medical centre of Tokyo University, Japan to join our research team. He brings his wife and 2 children and will work at the Brain and Mind Institute and live in Sydney. His details can be found here...
Yas (centre) is pictured below with his family and the families of Bruce Kirkpatrick, Stephen Spring and Prof Bill Gibson with Dr. Daniel Brown and Prof Ian Cuthoys at Yas' welcome dinner 3 April 2011.
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
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