Missouri University Awarded $10 Million From U.S. Army To Study Hearing Loss

The U.S. Army awarded Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, a $10 million grant to study hearing loss. The researchers at Washington University’s School of Medicine are investigating the effectiveness of an anti-seizure drug in preventing noise-induced hearing loss.

The researchers will study the anti-seizure drug zonisamide in police officers exposed to noise from gunfire at a shooting range, as well as in patients exposed to the sound of a drill during skull surgery. Zonisamide has been shown to protect hearing in animal models of hearing loss, when given ahead of exposure to loud noise.

“Hearing loss is the most common disorder experienced by members of the military, together with tinnitus — ringing in the ears — which is related to hearing damage,” said principal investigator Dr. Craig Buchman, head of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Washington University. “Hearing loss impairs communication, making family life and social situations hard to navigate. It can make military life potentially dangerous and employment after military service very difficult. These are major quality-of-life issues. If we can develop a therapy that prevents noise-induced hearing loss, it could have a big impact.”

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