The scientific community is constantly working on new ways to treat hearing loss. Researchers out of the Creighton University School of Medicine have identified a drug that may be able to help protect against hearing loss. While so far, the results have only been seen in mice, the researchers are hopeful these results can extend to humans in future studies.
Hearing Loss Caused by Chemotherapy
Cisplatin chemotherapy is an effective treatment for solid tumorous cancers, which includes ovarian, testicular, bladder, lung and pancreatic. Cisplatin is effective and is used in about 10-20% of all cancer treatments, either alone or in combination with other medications.
Unfortunately, in addition to killing the cancer cells, cisplatin harms cells in other parts of the body, including in the kidneys, brain and ears. Experts estimate that 40-60% of all patients who undergo cisplatin chemotherapy develop hearing loss.
Benefits of Tafinlar
The researchers focused their attention on Tafinlar (dabrafenib). Since this oral chemotherapy drug has already received FDA approval to treat cancers with BRAF gene mutations, repurposing should be a quicker and more cost-effective process than developing a brand-new drug.
The researchers used mice to determine if dabrafenib could prevent hearing loss caused by cisplatin chemotherapy.
They gave the mice a nontoxic dosage of dabrafenib that is comparable to the daily-approved dose for humans twice a day for three days. They received the drug 45 minutes before their cisplatin treatment then 24 hours and 48 hours after.
The researchers found clinically significant hearing protection. And most importantly, they determined that the addition of dabrafenib did not interfere with cisplatin’s effectiveness at causing tumor cell death.
In addition to protecting against ear damaged caused by cisplatin, the researchers were also interested in exploring if dabrafenib could offer protection from exposure to noises. In order to test this, they exposed mice to two hours of noises measuring 100 decibels (dB), 15 dB above the threshold that causes damage. Some of the mice were given dabrafenib 24 hours after they were exposed to the noise, and others were given dabrafenib in combination with oral compound AZD5438.
The researchers found that dabrafenib was able to protect the ears after noise exposure, and when paired with the other drug, offered nearly full noise protection.
The results of their study are exciting, even though it is only in the beginning stages and currently only benefits the mice you would find scurrying around Manito Park. To learn more about hearing protection available now or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, contact Columbia Hearing Centers today.