The news is exciting out of the University of Michigan's Kresge Hearing Research Institute where studies have found that certain vitamins can actually protect the complex and delicate inner ear mechanism from damage caused by exposure to loud noise.
Dr. Joseph Miller, co-lead researcher of the study undertaken at the University of Michigan stated, "If we can even see 50 percent of the effectiveness in humans that we saw in our animal trials, we will have an effective treatment that will very significantly reduce noise-induced hearing impairment in humans. That would be a remarkable dream."
The new, vitamin-rich drug, called AuraQuell, is being tested in military and industrial trials overseas in Sweden and Spain and, to date, field test results synch up with lab results - an exciting and promising finding.
Vitamins vs. Free Radicals
The medical community has long known about the dangers of free radicals. Current science indicates that these acidic molecules are responsible for the aging process itself and that, if these free radicals can be countered, we'll live longer, healthier lives.
The research undertaken at the University of Michigan uses high doses of the vitamins A, C and E and the mineral (another nutrient) magnesium to protect against the damage caused by free radicals.
As stated in a U of Michigan press release, "The U-M researchers discovered that this new combination of vitamins, when mixed with magnesium, can prevent noise-induced damage to the ears by blocking some of these complex cellular reactions."
More Good News
In another study, this one spearheaded by the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF), researchers Dr. Robert Floyd and retired Army surgeon, Dr. Richard Kopke, M.D., discovered a combination of two compounds stopped damage to the inner ear caused by acute acoustic trauma - something like an IED exploding under an APC.
"This is a very exciting finding," said Dr. Floyd, who holds the Merrick Foundation Chair in Aging Research at OMRF. "The research is still at a pre-clinical stage, but we're hopeful that we soon can begin testing in humans.
If this therapy ultimately proves effective," Dr. Floyd continued, "it could also have many civilian applications, including combating age-related hearing loss."
That's also good news for the one in three Americans over the age of 70 who live with some degree of hearing loss.
What does this mean for the future? With AuraQuell in field tests to defend against noise-induced hearing loss, and a pill designed to prevent hearing loss caused by acute trauma in clinical trials, it looks like researchers nearing the day when hearing loss can be addressed medically as well as through improved hearing technology.