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      Charity funds new research to prevent deafness caused by life-saving cancer treatment

      18 May 2016

      A widely used anti-cancer drug, cisplatin, can cause permanent and severe hearing loss, having a devastating impact on the quality of life for cancer survivors

      In a new Hearing Progress report launched today, Action on Hearing Loss highlights a new research study it is funding to urgently discover ways of preventing this life changing side-effect.

      Cisplatin causes the sensory hair cells in the inner ear that detect sound to die. An Action on Hearing Loss-funded study at the University of Sussex aims to discover how the anti-cancer drug gets into the sensory hair cells. A search for compounds that can either prevent cisplatin from being taken-up by the hair cells or prevent the hair cells from dying following treatment with cisplatin is already underway. It is hoped that this will ultimately lead to the development of a drug that could be co-administered with cisplatin to prevent loss of hearing.

      Action on Hearing Loss Chief Executive Paul Breckell said: ‘Over the last 40 years cancer survival rates in the UK have doubled. Whilst this is clearly a cause to celebrate, we should not forget that the lives of many survivors can be seriously affected by the side effects of their treatment. That is why we are funding research into discovering ways to protect the hearing of people treated with cisplatin, which is known to damage people’s hearing which in turn can leave them isolated, depressed and upset.’

      Action on Hearing Loss is the only UK source of funding dedicated to hearing research and last year it invested £1.6million in finding treatments and improving technology to support those with deafness, hearing loss and tinnitus to live the life they choose. The Hearing Progress report highlights significant progress made by the charity over the last year to advance treatments to prevent hearing loss, restore hearing and silence tinnitus. Breakthroughs have included discovering genes linked to common hearing conditions such as glue ear and otosclerosis, establishing a possible link between tinnitus and subtle damage to the auditory system that is not detected by standard hearing tests, and how pharmacological treatments can make the auditory nerve easier to stimulate – which could lead to cochlear implants that require less power and are more precise, giving a better sound quality.

      Action on Hearing Loss Head of Biomedical Research Ralph Holme added: ‘We believe cures for hearing loss and tinnitus are within touching distance. Our research has already transformed lives through cochlear implants, better hearing aids and better diagnosis. We are the largest donor funded hearing loss charity in the UK and thanks to the generous backing of our charity supporters we believe that together we can find cures.’


      Contact for media enquiries:

      Gorki Duhra, Senior PR Officer, telephone: 020 7296 8057, out of hours: 07944 038 635 or email: Follow Action on Hearing Loss on Twitter @hearinglosspr (opens in new window, external link)

      Notes to Editors

      • 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.
      • Action on Hearing Loss spokespeople and case studies are available for interview upon request.
      • Embargoed Action on Hearing Loss Hearing Progress report is available upon request.
      • 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 Our biomedical research
      • 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.
      • Tinnitus is a medical term to describe noise(s) that people can hear in one ear, both ears or in the head – such as ringing, buzzing or whistling. The sounds heard can vary from person to person, but the common link is that they do not have an external source.