Creighton University studying cancer drug’s potential to treat hearing loss

Published: Jan. 6, 2021 at 5:01 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Creighton University School of Medicine have found a drug already in use that has the potential to protect against or treat hearing loss.

With the help of graduate students, a groundbreaking study out of the university is making headway using the drug Dabrafenib. It’s already known for treating certain forms of cancer such as melanoma, small-cell lung carcinoma, and thyroid and biliary tract cancers.

Permanent hearing loss is a major side effect for cancer patients, affecting 40% to 60% of patients who undergo chemotherapy, according to Tal Teitz Ph.D. who is the research group leader for the study. It’s something her research group wants to fix and so far, their research has shown to be successful.

The study shows Dabrafenib may be the answer.

The drug is already FDA approved, which makes it a quicker process for when they would be able to begin testing it on humans, Dr. Teitz said. It can also be taken orally, which makes it a noninvasive treatment.

This has worked so far on mice that were given Dabrafenib orally. The results showed hearing protection occurred as a result, according to Matthew Ingersoll who is in charge of the day-to-day experimental work in the lab.

Creighton University School of Medicine is studying a cancer drug that may work to prevent or...
Creighton University School of Medicine is studying a cancer drug that may work to prevent or treat hearing loss.(Courtesy Creighton University School of Medicine)

“Dabrafenib showed no adverse effect to cisplatin’s tumor-killing ability in tumor cell lines, and from having previously gone through the FDA approval process, we already know that some of the possible side effects of the drug such as headaches and skin rash are manageable, especially when the drug is administered for short periods of time,” Ingersoll said.

Dr. Teitz added while the drug cannot regenerate cells once hearing loss is permanent, it can help prevent symptoms from getting worse for those who suffer partial hearing loss. Ideally, the drug would also work as a “day after” treatment for someone who experiences temporary hearing loss due to a gunshot, explosion, or other factors.

The drug is still in the animal testing phase of the study. If everything continues to move forward, Dr. Teitz expects the treatment would be available to the general population in three to five years.

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