Scientists Study Hearing Loss, Develop Therapy For AIDS Condition, Scan Cyst For Cancer

By Lois Baker

Release Date: September 29, 1995 This content is archived.


Scientists at the University at Buffalo reported the following research results at the recent meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology in New Orleans.

In an effort to pinpoint how noise causes loss of hearing, researchers affiliated with the UB Center for Hearing and Deafness have found that nimodipine, a type of calcium-channel blocker, can provide partial protection against high-frequency hearing loss. Using chinchillas as an animal model, the researchers exposed a control group and a group that received nimodipine to noise and tested their otoacoustic emissions, a measure of hearing capability, over 1-28 days. They found that both groups recovered equal hearing capability at low and middle frequencies, but the nimodipine group recovered much greater hearing than the control group at the two highest frequencies, according to Richard Salvi, Ph.D., UB professor of communicative disorders and sciences (716-829-2485).

UB researchers have developed a non-invasive therapy to treat cystic enlargement of the parotid gland, a condition that develops frequently in patients with AIDS. The parotid gland is the largest of the salivary glands, located just in front of the ears. Enlargement often is accompanied by generalized inflammation of the lymph nodes. Treatment for this condition has involved surgical removal of the cysts and/or needle aspiration, which must be repeated when the cysts recur. William Belles, M.D., clinical assistant professor of otolaryngology, and colleagues have developed a method to treat the condition with low-level radiation, which stops the progression of the cysts and eliminates the need for invasive procedures. Belles can be reached at 716-829-2420.

UB researchers have produced the first Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan of a benign genetic malformation on the neck called a branchial cleft cyst, which will be valuable for future diagnoses involving this condition. Standard scanning methods couldn't determine if a growing mass on the left side of a patient's neck was benign or malignant. PET scans conducted by George T. Simpson II, M.D., professor and chair in the UB Department of Otolaryngology, and colleagues at Buffalo VA Medical Center showed the mass was a benign branchial cyst, avoiding the need for an invasive biopsy. The work is part of an ongoing investigation of neoplasms in the head and neck by UB otolaryngologists. Simpson can be reached at 716-829-2420.