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      Drug to reduce hearing loss due to cancer treatments is now available

      Some cancer survivors develop hearing loss, caused by the drugs that treat cancer. A US-based company, Fennec Pharmaceuticals, have developed a new drug that prevents hearing loss in children who have been treated for liver cancer. Dr Carina Santos, from our research team, tells us more.

      By: Carina Santos | 20 November 2017

      Cancer is a devastating disease but for some people, surviving cancer does not always mean going back to a normal life. Some cancer survivors have to face a life with severe hearing loss caused by their life-saving chemotherapy. The consequences of hearing loss can be particularly devastating in children, impacting on their language and social development.

      Cisplatin is a platinum-based compound widely used in chemotherapy treatments, especially in children‘s cancers because it is highly effective - 80% survival rates. However, this drug can lead to permanent and severe high frequency hearing loss in 6 out of every 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. Many of these children will require hearing aids or cochlear implants for the rest of their lives. However, the adaptation of a child to hearing aids is not easy and a lot of them end up not using them properly. (For real testimonies of mothers dealing with the hearing loss of their children after cancer treatment please watch here and here)

      Fennec Pharmaceuticals is a US-based pharmaceutical company that is developing a drug (Sodium Thiosulfate (STS)) to reduce cisplatin-induced hearing loss in children.  They recently presented their results from Phase III clinical trials – the final stage of clinical testing before a drug is approved for use. The results show that 67% of children with standard risk hepatoblastoma (a type of liver cancer) treated with cisplatin developed hearing loss, compared to just 37% of children that were treated with cisplatin + STS. Fennec pharmaceuticals has also shown that if STS is given 6 hours after cisplatin treatment it could still help protect hearing without interfering with cisplatin’s ability to kill cancer (you can watch Dr. Penelope Brock, MD, of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, UK, explaining the results here).

      Fennec Pharmaceuticals will now apply for a license from the Food and Drug Administration in the USA and the European Medicines Agency so that they can market and sell the drug they have developed. In the meantime, before it is licensed, parents of children with hepatoblastoma undergoing chemotherapy who wish to protect their children’s hearing with STS can access it under a special scheme called the Named Patient Programme, also known as Compassionate Use Program. These are programmes created by regulators to allow patients with an unmet medical need to have access to promising drugs that are in late-stages of development before they have been approved. You can find out more information about this drug and its Named Patient Programme in the links below.

      To see more about STS please consult Fennec Pharmaceuticals webpage: http://fennecpharma.com/

      Press release of clinical trials results: http://fennecpharma.com/fennec-announces-positive-results-from-phase-3-siopel-6-study-on-pedmark-sodium-thiosulfate-presented-at-the-49th-congress-of-the-international-society-of-pediatric-oncology-siop-2017-mee/

      STS Named Patient Programme: http://fennecpharma.com/fennec-announces-launch-of-european-named-patient-programme-for-sodium-thiosulfate-for-pediatric-patients-with-standard-risk-hepatoblastoma/

      Recent Posts

      Victoria runs Marathon for mother who lost hearing in operation

      Victoria Briand is taking on the London Marathon this Sunday to raise funds for Action on Hearing Loss. The mum-of-three is taking on the big challenge after her mother was diagnosed with a brain tumour and lost her hearing following lifesaving surgery. Since, their entire family’s lives have changed forever. Read Victoria’s touching story in her own words.

      By: Victoria Briand
      19 April 2018

      Jackie Edwards, 60, runs Marathon

      Being a busy grandmother-of-eight hasn’t stopped Jackie Edwards, 60, from taking on 26.2 miles that is the London Marathon this weekend. Hailing from Evesham in Worcestershire, Jackie has been deaf since the age of four and now wears two hearing aids. By running the marathon with her daughter, Bev, Jackie hopes to raise vital funds for Action on Hearing Loss, a charity that is close to her heart.

      By: Jackie Edwards
      18 April 2018

      The latest in hearing aid evolution

      Hearing aids have been around since the 18th century. From the earliest ear horns, they have evolved into what we see today – high tech digital hearing aids. These devices can carry out thousands of digital processes to try and ensure the sound quality is of the highest standard for their users. However, they are still far from perfect, so what comes next? Jesal Vishnuram, our Technology Research Manager, explains.

      By: Jesal Vishnuram
      16 April 2018

      Getting medicines into the inner ear and improving hearing tests – new grants for hearing research

      We’ve awarded new grants through our Flexi Grant scheme, which provides small grants to researchers around the world to support a variety of activities that benefit hearing research as well as people with hearing loss or tinnitus. Tracey Pollard, from our Biomedical Research team, tells us more.

      By: Tracey Pollard
      12 April 2018