Compound may prevent noise-induced hearing loss

Compound may prevent noise-induced hearing loss

You might imagine that noise-induced hearing loss is brought about purely by physical force, the result of intense sound waves hammering the eardrum or the tiny bones in the middle ear.

Actually, this type of hearing loss usually comes about in less dramatic fashion.

Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by cumulative stress to a group of nerve cells inside the cochlea, the most complex part of the inner ear. The act of processing loud noise can harm and, eventually, destroy these cells.

When these nerve cells become so damaged they stop communicating, hearing loss is the result.

Up until now, there’s been no treatment to mitigate the damaging effects of loud noise after the exposure has ended.

But a study recently published in the journal Cell Metabolism indicates that a biochemical involved in transmitting nerve impulses might one day prevent noise-induced hearing loss.

The compound is nicotinamide [nick-uh-TEEN-uh-mide] riboside [RY-bo-side], also known as N-R. Among other things, it’s a chemical precursor to vitamin B-three.

So far, the compound N-R has only been tested in mice.

According to the study, a regimen of N-R therapy prevented hearing damage in groups of mice subjected to loud noise. The therapy even prevented hearing loss when administered shortly after the noise exposure had ended.

Of course, researchers are still a long way from successful trials in human patients. More studies are needed on N-R therapy.

Even if N-R therapy does prove to be safe and effective in people, there’s no telling how long the relief would last, or how significant the relief would be.

But it’s an exciting possibility … and no doubt we’ll get an earful of news the next time there’s a breakthrough on N-R therapy for hearing loss.

Related Episodes