Treatment of noise-induced hearing loss through biologic mechanisms

Award Year 

It sounds unbelievable and seems impossible. And it has been, until now—an orally administered antioxi-dant pharmaceutical product that will prevent, reduce and, in some cases, even reverse acute noise-induced hearing loss. This paradigm-chang-ing medical breakthrough came about thanks to the research efforts of Drs. Richard Kopke and Michael Hoffer of the Naval Medical Center San Diego. Drs. Kopke and Hof-fer discovered that certain antioxidant compounds are ef-fective in combating the hearing damage that (more) occurs when people are exposed to loud noises such as explosions, air-plane engines, in-dustrial equipment, and even loud of-fices and sports stadiums. This an-tioxidant-based medical technology has been successfully transferred to the private sector through an exclu-sive patent licensing agreement with American BioHealth Group (ABG). ABG has been on the fast track, and one product based on this technology is already available to the public as a nonprescription nutraceutical known as “The Hearing Pill™.” The antioxidant ingredient in this pill, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), had already been approved by the FDA for human consumption for other uses, which al-lows the product to be sold to the pub-lic. Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the primary causes of disability in both the military and civilian sectors. An estimated one in four American adults develops permanent hearing loss as a result of their occupational exposure to noise. According to the Centers for Disease Control, hearing loss costs the nation about $56 billion a year. Clearly, an effective treatment for hearing loss such as that of the transferred technology can have far-reaching and extensive benefits to a vast array of citizens and to the nation itself. (less)