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Clinical Trials - Preventing Noise Induced Hearing Loss in the Navy

Clinical Trials - Preventing Noise Induced Hearing Loss in the Navy

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Posted by HHIssues on November 19, 2000 at 16:20:08:

Business Week: August 17, 1998
Department: Developments to Watch
Headline: HEADING OFF HEARING LOSS AT THE PASSAGE
Byline: EDITED BY JOHN CAREY

THE EAR IS A MARVELOUS ORGAN--but it's terribly vulnerable. Loud noises and some chemicals and drugs can lead to the production of toxins called free radicals that kill hair cells--and cause hearing loss and balance problems. Some 30 million Americans suffer from full or partial deafness, and 10 million are exposed to dangerous levels of noise at work.

The problem is particularly acute in the U.S. military, where rifle shots, jet engines, and other noises have affected the hearing of 10% of those on active duty, resulting in treatment costs of more than $1 billion per year.

Now, military researchers have an answer. They have learned how to deliver chemicals called antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals and prevent damage. Scientists at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego have developed a tiny catheter that can be passed under the eardrum and slid down to the boundary between the middle ear and the inner ear. That allows the correct amounts of
drugs to be pumped into the crucial area. ``It's changing the way we approach hearing loss,'' says Navy neurologist Richard D. Kopke. Kopke and co-workers have restored hearing and balance in several patients--and larger clinical trials are planned.


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