The House Center for Ménière’s Disease Research is dedicated to understanding the natural history of Ménière’s disease and furthering research into resources and treatments for individuals living with this disease.
About Ménière’s Disease
Ménière’s disease is a condition of the inner ear characterized by repeated attacks of severe dizziness and vertigo, sensorineural hearing loss and hearing fluctuation, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). It is estimated that Ménière’s disease affects approximately 615,000 individuals in the United States, with 45,000 newly diagnosed cases each year. Although it can develop at any time, it is more likely to affect individuals between 40 and 60 years of age.
The underlying cause of Ménière’s disease remains unclear. Several theories include allergies or other autoimmune factors, abnormal inner ear structure, vestibular migraines, viral infections, and genetics. The symptoms associated with Ménière’s disease can be debilitating. While there is not yet a cure, most individuals living with Ménière’s can find relief of vertigo through diet, drugs, assistive devices, or surgery. There has never been an effective treatment found to improve or stabilize the symptom of hearing loss associated with Ménière’s, other than the use of hearing aids or assistive devices in those patients who have serviceable hearing. While these treatments do currently exist, research surrounding the cause and innovative clinical treatments are necessary to improve the lives of those living with Ménière’s disease.
Areas of Research
The House Institute Foundation faculty in this Center are actively engaged in research to identify gaps in knowledge surrounding hearing loss, drugs for symptom management, and effective surgical interventions for Ménière’s patients. Participation in clinical drug trials for the treatment and improvement of Ménière’s symptoms is ongoing.
Developing Consensus in Clinical Practice
The Center has a large patient population with data spanning 9 years. Compiling and consolidating this information into a database uniquely designed to aid in analysis of Ménière’s symptoms would enable researchers to pursue several different retrospective studies. These include expansion of current, established treatment measures, symptom surveys and questionnaires, and surgical interventions.
Researching New and Orphan Drugs
Clinical trials conducted at the Center will identify and investigate new drug interventions to help with symptom management and disease progression. Prospective studies like these are a crucial pillar of the Center and can help drive future research. Our current prospective study looks at the repurposed use of allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma drugs to reduce vertigo and hearing loss in patients with Ménière’s. Funded by Cures Within Reach, this double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial is aimed at proof of concept that Montelukast, a previously FDA-approved medication that is known to help with allergy symptoms, may help to alleviate symptoms in patients with Ménière’s.
Hearing Loss in Ménière’s Disease
There is a gap in knowledge surrounding hearing loss in Ménière’s disease. The underlying cause is not yet known, and current treatment and prevention methods have been found to be effective only for the symptoms of vertigo and dizziness. The Center will investigate further interventions to help minimize sustained hearing loss experienced by patients while also analyzing the efficacy of current treatment modalities.
Understanding the Natural History of Ménière’s disease and Treatments
We hope to build a prospective database of patient data examining efficacy of treatment modalities to improve quality of life.
Implementation of Continued Data Collection
Several surveys assessing severity of Ménière’s symptoms are well-established. The Center aims to utilize these in conjunction with a new questionnaire created by HIF researchers to collect data from clinicians and patients at the Center and across the country.
Apply Research Findings to the Process of Clinical Care
Our goal is to provide a platform for Ménière’s patients to access resources and educational materials. As the symptoms associated with Ménière’s are “invisible”, it is common for a Ménière’s disease diagnosis to be delayed or incorrectly identified, as hearing loss, hearing fluctuation, vertigo, and tinnitus often present at different times. A lack of knowledge regarding Ménière’s can make it difficult for both patients and healthcare providers to understand the limitations associated with Ménière’s disease. To help raise awareness and further patient care outside of the clinic, the Center will distribute educational tools and resources to healthcare providers and patients, as well as their families and caregivers.
Previous Contributions to Ménière’s Disease Science
- Developed the first ethnic characterization of a large Ménière’s disease cohort from a large metropolitan area using molecular genetic data.
- Found that circulating immune complexes may be involved in pathogenesis of Ménière’s disease, either as a direct cause of damage or as a byproduct of an underlaying autoimmune abnormality.
- Participated in several clinical drug trials for the treatment and improvement of Ménière’s disease symptoms.