Cruel animal experiments fail for tinnitus

I’m writing to ask you to end cruel and flawed tinnitus research done on guinea pigs in the laboratory of Susan Shore at University of Michigan and focus only on human-based studies, which are already a significant component of the Shore research.

Despite years of studying tinnitus in animal models, there is still no effective treatment or clear understanding of its cause. Information obtained from animal experiments is misleading and insufficient, particularly for this complex disorder which is impossible to effectively model in animals. 

Electrophysiological analyses that compared human tinnitus with that induced in animals indicate that there are different physiological processes occurring between humans and animals. Additionally, behavioral tests in animals show that not all animals develop tinnitus when exposed to the same tinnitus-inducing agent. [Eggermont. Front. Aging Neurosci., 14 November 2016]

Human-based research is the only way to understand tinnitus. At the Bionics Institute in Melbourne, Australia, researchers developed a novel, non-invasive, non-radioactive imaging method using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to study tinnitus. By comparing the scans of people with and without tinnitus and analyzing that data with machine learning, scientists were not only able to detect tinnitus but could predict those with moderate vs. severe tinnitus with almost 90% accuracy. Human based studies such as this hold the only potential to treat this disorder.

I urge NIDCD and UM to terminate the guinea pig studies, which serve only to make animals suffer, and devote research resources into the human studies already in progress.

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