Positive developments for tinnitus sufferers
By Matthew Staff
There has finally been a breakthrough in removing the symptoms of tinnitus with a treatment now on the market for the 600,000 sufferers.
The therapy known as Acoustic Co-ordinated Reset (CR) Neuromodulation has been available in Germany since 2010, thanks to the discovery at the Julich Research Centre led by Peter Tass.
After this successful two year period of using the therapy in Germany, in which 75 percent of sufferers experienced dramatic improvements or a complete recovery, Tass will now present the findings in front the British Medical Association.
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The treatment involves special earphones that transmit specific tunes down the recipient’s ears in an attempt to reset the auditory nerve cells in their brain.
The procedure currently costs £4,500 but it is now hoped that the success of the trial and the subsequent presentation going ahead this week, will speed up the process of getting the therapy free on the NHS.
This will literally be music to many people’s ears, with around 10 percent of the population currently suffering from the illness.
There are currently no cures available, with treatment restricted to helping people deal with the condition, rather than being able to reduce the symptoms. However, the trial in Germany saw that after just 12 weeks of wearing the headphones for a few hours each day, 10 months of peace was achieved.
In the simultaneous ‘dummy’ test using placebos, no such results were accomplished, making this new therapy the most comprehensive development in coping with and possibly curing tinnitus.
“This is the first in-man trial for the CR concept, and its results are extremely encouraging,” Mark Williams, an audiologist at the Tinnitus Clinic has stated.
“As the first treatment for tinnitus to remove rather than mask symptoms, clinical evidence of safety and efficacy will hopefully open up this treatment to a wider range of patients.”
The therapy being implemented on the NHS is now dependent on the continued development within the UK on two levels.
While the Tinnitus Clinic is funding a similar trial to take place at Nottingham University with a larger sample, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) will be mulling over an official appraisal application.
Success on both of these fronts is likely to be enough to convince the NHS to jump on board, and end the misery for thousands of tinnitus patients, who often experience depression as a side-effect to the condition.
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”