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Sep 26, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- THERAPY MAY PREVENT PERMANENT HEARING LOSS

Loyola University Health System's "wick and pump" ear therapy may help some patients with sudden hearing loss to hear again, a study shows. "These patients would have lost their hearing permanently without this treatment," said lead author Dr. Sam Marzo, assistant professor of otolaryngology. He told a meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery Foundation the treatment improved hearing in 47 percent of the study patients. In the procedure, doctors deliver steroids to the inner ear through a wick-shaped sponge inserted in the eardrum and a small tube attached to a battery-powered pump surgically inserted in the middle ear. To be effective, the therapy must be started within six weeks of the onset of hearing loss. "Traditionally, the treatment for sudden sensorineural hearing loss is oral steroids," Marzo said. "However, many people cannot tolerate oral steroids, and for others, oral steroids are not effective."


The drug Lexapro, a so-called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, has been shown to relieve depression as effectively as does the drug Effexor XR. Doctors say this is the first study that showed an SSRI has remission rates comparable to those of Effexor XR, an antidepressant from a class of drugs called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. The researchers also found Lexapro was better tolerated. Four times as many patients taking Effexor XR as those receiving Lexapro quit the study due to side effects. The findings of the eight-week study, presented at a meeting of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology in Prague, involved 195 patients with major depressive disorder.


Stressful events can exacerbate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, researchers say. Dutch researchers studied 73 patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. They reported a total of 457 stressful events, such as job stress, financial problems or death of a close family member. The researchers, who reported their results in the British Medical Journal, found stress doubled the risk of the symptoms worsening. The scientists say they do not yet know the full significance of the findings, but understanding that stressful events are associated with disease activity adds important information to what little is known about this unpredictable disease.


An epilepsy drug may help addicts kick their cocaine habit by eliminating their craving for the substance, a study indicates. Lead author Dr. Jonathan Brodie, the Marvin Stern Professor of Psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine, and colleagues studied 20 addicts who took gamma-vinyl-GABA. The drug, also known as vigabatrin and by the trade name Sabril, has been used in Europe and other countries to treat infantile spasms and epilepsy. It is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States. "Our results, in which 40 percent of hard-core addicts were able to stay clean for more than 60 days, were more spectacular than we would have ever dreamed," Brodie said. "These addicts were able to stay clean even without leaving the environment that had fostered their addiction. They gained weight, they got jobs, and they are now living with their families." The results now must be confirmed in a larger study, researchers said.

(Editors: For more information about HEARING, contact Joanne Swanson at 708-216-2445 or For DEPRESSION, Michael Kaplan at 212-537-8295. For MS, Emma Dickinson at +44 (0)20 7383 6529 or For COCAINE, Pamela McDonnell at 212-404-3555 or

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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