Researchers have developed a new magnetic delivery method that may prevent by 50 per cent the hearing loss caused as a result of treatment by a widely used chemotherapy drug.
Cisplatin is commonly used to treat childhood cancers but can lead to permanent or severe high frequency hearing loss in nine out of 10 children following 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.
In the study, the researchers used magnetic fields to push drug-covered iron nanoparticles into the cochlea or the inner ear and reduced hearing loss in mice treated with the chemotherapy drug cisplatin by 50 per cent.
“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,” said Ralph Holme, Director of Research at Action on Hearing Loss a UK-based charity.
The approach, published in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, is significantly more efficient than a normal intra-tympanic injection and could be used to deliver any drug to the ear and can also be used to deliver drugs into eyes or into the skin, the researchers noted.
Researchers anticipate that the novel approach 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.