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Could SIU Drug Help Troops With Hearing Loss?
From the lab to the battle field. A new drug developed by a doctor at the SIU school of medicine in Springfield, is aimed at helping soldiers hear better. Thousands of soldiers every year develop noise induced hearing loss because war is loud.
"Concert is around 110 decibels, " Major Jayson Coble, with the Illinois National Guard, said. "A lawnmower is around 107 decibels. Riding in a helicopter or tactile vehicle can be around that same level. A rifle shot can be in the 150 range."
Coble is also the Safety and Occupational Health Manager and served in Afghanistan. He says despite wearing hearing protection like muffs or plugs, hearing loss can happen in our military.
"There are mechanisms in place for soldiers serving in the military with hearing loss," Coble said. "They get more frequent hearing tests and get equipment to protect what hearing they have left."
The biggest injury for US Troops? Noise induced hearing loss or ringing in the ears. The U.S. military receives more than 20,000 new claims a year. But could a new drug, patented by the SIU School of Medicine, change that?
"We're going to be doing a clinical trial in Ft. Jackson," Dr. Kathleen Campbell, the inventor, said. "We'll be testing drill Sergeant Instructor candidates where they fire 500 founds of M-16 rapid fire in 11 days."
Some of those will get the new drug, others will get a placebo. They will be assessed for hearing thresholds and ringing in the ears before and two weeks after the noise exposure.
"This is the first large scale clinical trial to prevent noise induced hearing loss for our troops with this particular compound," Campbell said.
Campbell says they have strong evidence the drug works and it works safely, a good sign for those who need to be able to hear and hear well on the battle field.
After the phase three of testing is complete, another study will need to take place to confirm results. Therefore, the drug, if successful, may not be available to all people for five to six years.