Restored Hearing, a company established by students from University College Dublin (UCD) and the University of Edinburgh, is seeking to raise €500,000 to support R&D into a cure for permanent tinnitus and the sale of its hearing protection products.
The company, which has been designated an Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-up, has developed a sound therapy that can cure temporary tinnitus in 99pc of cases.
Temporary tinnitus, or ‘ringing in the ears’, can be caused by exposure to loud music or working in a noisy environment. Ringing in the ears can last for several days and cause the sufferer severe irritation and discomfort.
The high-pitched sound is caused when loud noises flatten the tiny hairs inside the ear. The hairs then cause interference with one another, which the brain interprets as a ‘phantom’ noise. The Restored Hearing therapy works by playing low-frequency sounds into the ear, which makes the tiny hairs stand up again.
“Using sound, our therapy stimulates the inner ear to promote the re-straightening of the cochlear hairs that get bent or even broken when they are subjected to high-intensity sound,” the company’s CEO Rhona Togher explained.
“When the cochlear hairs are bent over they interfere with each other and this interference is interpreted by the brain as sound, often in the complete absence of any sound. In 99pc of cases, the tinnitus of the sufferer was gone after one minute of our sound therapy.
“We are currently fundraising to continue with our R&D activities aimed at investigating if our sound therapy for temporary tinnitus can be used to help people suffering from more permanent tinnitus and to develop and sell our hearing protection products,” Togher explained.
Restored Hearing began life as a secondary school project in 2007 at the Ursuline College in Sligo. Pupils Togher and Eimear O’Carroll, together with physics teacher Anthony Carolan, set about finding a solution to the problem of temporary tinnitus. The students won a prize at the 2009 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition with their research.
The company then located to NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs, while it participated on the NovaUCD 2010 Campus Company Development Programme and was an award winner on the programme.