Spin-out company MuteButton has secured €200k in funding from Enterprise Ireland, which will enable it to accelerate large-scale trials of its tinnitus treatment device and increase its workforce from four to 20 by 2013.
MuteButton was established in 2010 by Dr Ross O’Neill as a spin-out company from the Hamilton Institute, NUI Maynooth, where the technology was originally developed by him with Dr Paul O’Grady and Prof Barak Pearlmutter.
Currently employing four people, MuteButton recently located to NovaUCD to develop collaborative partnerships with University College Dublin researchers in the treatment of neurological conditions. It plans to increase staff numbers to 20 over the next two years as its device nears market release.
Permanent tinnitus affecting 40m people globally
Commonly referred to as ‘ringing in the ears’, permanent tinnitus is estimated to affect more than 20,000 people in Ireland alone and more than 40m people globally.
MuteButton has developed a non-invasive (Class IIA) device the size of an iPhone which treats the effects of permanent tinnitus. It presents sound to the ear using normal headphones and simultaneously presents this sound as tactile patterns on the tongue using an intra-oral array.
This provides the brain with a multimodal basis for sound which allows neurological mechanisms within the brain to suppress the ‘ringing in the ears’ of the sufferer for hours.
“This investment by Enterprise Ireland marks a significant milestone for the company. It is another step towards the development of an effective treatment for a medical condition that is currently considered untreatable,” said O’Neill.
Photo: Dr Keith O’Neill, director, Life Science and Food Commercialisation, Enterprise Ireland; and Dr Ross O’Neill, CEO, MuteButton.