Charity Action on Hearing Loss is supporting the biotechnology firm Otomagnetics, which today announces an important breakthrough towards preventing hearing loss caused by a widely used chemotherapy drug.
Using a new technique to deliver steroids to the inner ear, developed with funding from Action on Hearing Loss, Otomagnetics have been able to reduce hearing loss in mice treated with the chemotherapy drug cisplatin by 50%.
Cisplatin is commonly used to treat childhood cancers but can lead to permanent or severe high frequency hearing loss in 9 out 10 children following treatment. Hearing loss can occur within hours or days after the first cycle of cisplatin treatment, or develop after repeated rounds of treatment.
Steroids can reduce cisplatin-induced hearing loss but they may also reduce the effectiveness of cisplatin’s ability to kill cancer cells. This means they need to be directly delivered to the cochlea to be effective and to avoid this side-effect. The current approach is to inject liquid steroids through the ear drum into the middle ear from where they can diffuse into the cochlea. However, this method is not very efficient as the steroid is lost via the Eustachian tube as soon as the patient stands up, so doesn’t get into the cochlea at high enough concentrations to prevent hearing loss.
Otomagnetic’s new approach to getting drugs into the cochlea uses magnetic fields to push drug-covered iron nanoparticles into the cochlea. The approach is significantly more efficient than a normal intra-tympanic injection. The technique could be used to deliver any drug to the ear and can also be used to deliver drugs into eyes or into the skin.
Dr Ralph Holme, Director of Research at Action on Hearing Loss said: ‘It is vital that we find effective ways of getting drugs into the inner ear, which is why we are backing Otomagnetics.
‘It is great news that progress is being made towards finding new ways to protect children’s hearing following cancer treatment with cisplatin which causes the sensory hair cells in the cochlea that detect sound to die and can leave cancer survivors who have already gone through a traumatic experience depressed and isolated.’
Otomagnetics anticipate that their magnetic delivery method could also be used to deliver a wide range of drug, gene and stem cell-based treatments to ultimately treat many different types of hearing loss.
The paper, Magnetic nanoparticle mediated steroid delivery mitigates cisplatin induced hearing loss will go live on http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fncel.2017.00268/full at 05.00 CET Wednesday 13 September 2017.
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Notes to Editors
- The actual paper will go live on http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fncel.2017.00268/full at 05.00 CET Wednesday 13 September 2017.
- Action on Hearing Loss spokespeople are available for interview
- An embargoed copy of the research paper is available upon request.
- The cochlea is the auditory portion of the inner ear.
- The Eustachian tube also known as the auditory tube or pharyngotympanic tube, is a tube that links the nasopharynx to the middle ear. It is a part of the middle ear.
- Action on Hearing Loss helps people to confront deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss to live the life they choose. Action on Hearing Loss enables them to take control of their lives and remove the barriers in their way. Action on Hearing Loss gives people support and care, develop technology and treatments, and campaign for equality.
- Otomagnetics, a University of Maryland College Park spin-out, is developing a non-invasive method to effectively deliver drugs and other therapeutic payloads to inner and middle ear compartments, to the eye, and into the skin.
- Action on Hearing Loss runs the world’s largest donor-supported hearing research programme, dedicated to funding research into better treatments and cures for hearing loss and tinnitus.
- For more information about Action on Hearing Loss’s Biomedical Research programme, go to www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/biomedicalresearch
- Hearing loss research is woefully underfunded, compared to the scale of the issue, which affects one in six people in the UK. In 2014, hearing loss research received less than a tenth of the funding per person affected (£1.11 per person) compared to sight loss (£11.35 per person affected) and a fraction of funding for research into other conditions such as diabetes, and heart disease.
- Hearing loss, if undiagnosed or mismanaged, can lead to isolation, depression and reduce employment opportunities. Investment in research has the potential to not only improve the quality of life for millions of people across the UK, but save the economy millions of pounds.