(KING 5) -- At least half of all Baby Boomers already have serious hearing loss. So do some teenagers
“It's the most significant disease for which we have absolutely no treatments,” said Dr. Jonathan Kil of Sound Pharmaceuticals in Seattle.
Dr. Kil thinks his new drug called Ebselen could be the answer. It was tested at the University of Florida. The drug mimics an enzyme called glutathione that the body produces naturally to protect ears from damage.
“We run out of glutathione. This drug is able to speed the rates at which glutathoine is replenished,” said Dr. Colleen le Pressl at the University of Florida.
Students listened to four hours of their choice of pop or rock music with the volume set at 100 decibels, about the same level as a lawn mover. Hearing was tested before and after. Normal recovery time is about 24 hours.
“One of the interesting things is that the duration of the hearing loss went from 24 hours to one hour, so this was quite impressive,” said Dr. Kil.
As people age, it takes longer and longer for hearing to return to normal after exposure to loud noises.
“It evolves to permanent hearing loss or noise-induced hearing loss and that's what we’re trying to prevent and acutely treat,” said Dr. Kil.
This drug has promise for the military and for anyone who works in noisy environments, not to mention sports fans.
“Who knows maybe you'll see our banner someday across the street from a Seahawks game or Mariners game,” said Dr. Kil.
So far, the drug appears to have no side effects, but it will be at least until the end of 2015 before a large scale clinical trial takes place.