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Antibiotic protects hearing in young mice, study finds

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have found that the antibiotic Kanamycin (KM), which was previously believed to damage ears, actually has a protective effect against hearing loss in young mice when used in low doses.

KM is an antibiotic used to isolate bacteria and treat a variety of infections. It can also lead to severe hearing loss in both human and animals, however.

“Previous animal studies have shown that, when animals are given Kanamycin antibiotic and then exposed to noise, the animals will be more susceptible to noise,” said William Clark, professor of otolaryngology and director of the Program in Audiology and Communication Sciences, a division of the Central Insitute for the Deaf School at Washington University School of Medicine. “Therefore, we fully expected that the antibiotic would make young mice’s ears more susceptible to noise. Instead, we found that the drug completely protected the mouse from any hearing loss.”

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