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Press Advisory


Release No: 185-98
July 31, 1998

Hearing Loss Medical Breakthrough

A pioneering medical advance concerning the restoration of noise-induced hearing loss will be outlined at a press briefing by the U.S. Navy on Friday, July 31st at 8:30 a.m. at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, 1600 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1200, Arlington, Va. 22209, (703) 525-0770/fax-0299). Contact John Bosma (x-239A) for details.

In a medical breakthrough that will help tens of millions of Americans at risk for noise-induced hearing loss, the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, sponsored by the Medical Science and Technology Division of the Office of Naval Research, has successfully tested a technique that restores hearing loss if taken within hours following exposure to loud noise. It can also "inoculate" users against such loss if used before such exposure. The technique, which Navy researchers describe as unique, uses micro-devices implanted in the ear to deliver anti-oxidant pharmaceuticals that rescue the hypersensitive hair cells that are fundamental to sound detection. U.S. armed forces currently incur medical costs of at least $1 billion/year to treat active-duty and retired personnel for avoidable hearing loss while in service. Such hearing loss often occurs during years 6-16 of an individual's military service, forcing early medical retirement.

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