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December 27, 2003

Marines will test drug to fight loss of hearing

From: Fort Worth Star Telegram, TX - Dec 27, 2003

Healthday News

Six hundred U.S. Marines taking part in future war games will test a new drug designed to protect their hearing from the destructive noise of battle.

The drug is N-acetylcystine, known as NAC. It is an antioxidant compound that loosens mucus in airways and treats liver damage from overuse of acetaminophen. But research has shown that it may also help prevent noise-induced hearing loss.

During two weeks of war games, each of the 600 Marines will swallow a drink containing NAC at every meal. Their hearing tests will be compared with those of fellow Marines who don't receive the drug.

Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by oxidative stress, or damage created by too many free oxygen molecules. The molecules kill the delicate hair cells of the inner ear.

Animal trials have led researchers at the University of Buffalo's Center for Hearing and Deafness to believe that the use of antioxidant compounds can protect the hair cells of human ears from damage.

© 2003 Star Telegram and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.