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Springfield Researcher Promotes Treatment For Hearing Loss

SIU School of Medicine

Imagine taking a pill before going to a concert to help protect your hearing.  Or taking one afterwards to restore it.  That day may be sooner than you think.  

Dr. Kathleen Campbell, Director of Audiology Research at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, has patented a treatment.  It's currently undergoing a clinical trial. 

Campbell's treatment involved D-methionine, an amino acid. 

"When your ear is exposed to certain types of drugs, therapeutic drugs, that have hearing loss as a side effect or noise, you get a free radical formation. Free radicals are missing an electron on the outer shell," Campbell said.  "So what they do is start stealing electrons from the cells around them. That causes damage and causes other cells to die." 

Campbell says the treatment, to simplify it, involves a drug that "donates" electrons to make sure the hearing loss is not permanent. 

Campbell says the treatment would not be a substitute for hearing protection, like earmuffs or earplugs. 

The U.S. Army is interested in her research and is involved in the clinical trial.  Noise induced hearing loss is the most common reason troops cannot be redeployed.   Farmers, hunters and others also have high incidents of noise induced hearing loss. 

She says if all goes well, the treatment could be widely available in 5 to 6 years.

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