We could be on the verge of a breakthrough.

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A new treatment that retrains part of the brain that processes sound may help silence tinnitus — a ringing in the ears that afflicts 10 percent of senior citizens and more than 40 percent of military veterans, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

They said a device that stimulates the vagus nerve in the neck while simultaneously playing different sounds for several weeks helped eliminate the condition in a group of rats.

A trial of the treatment in humans is set to start in Europe this year, said Dr. Navzer Engineer of MicroTransponder, a medical device company affiliated with The University of Texas at Dallas, whose study appears in the journal Nature.

Tinnitus is sometimes brought on by hearing loss. It occurs as cells in the inner ear are damaged, often from a loud noise. Current drugs help mask tinnitus, but the condition is incurable.