One of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics, aminoglycosides have saved millions of lives since their invention. However, this wonder drug has a serious side effect for some patients. In fact, an estimated 20 to 60 percent of individuals prescribed aminoglycosides suffer some degree of hearing loss as a result.
Fortunately, a new study from the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggests that hope may be on the horizon for patients in need of aminoglycosides. According to researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, mice treated with a modified version of aminoglycosides enjoyed the benefits of the drug without suffering the accompanying deafness.
Aminoglycosides and Hearing
Aminoglycosides treat a host of conditions including bacterial diseases, infections of unknown origin, sepsis and pneumonia. Additionally, many doctors prescribe these drugs for immunosuppressed patients who are undergoing cancer treatment. And while aminoglycosides can be incredibly effective at staving off infection, many patients treated with these drugs suffer severe and permanent hearing loss as the medication kills off non-regenerating hair cells in the body. Known as ototoxicity, this condition can cause an inability to hear sounds in the high-frequency ranges or even complete deafness.
Despite the development of newer and potentially safer antibiotics, many doctors persist in prescribing aminoglycosides. Not only are they less expensive than other drugs, but they also don’t require refrigeration like many types of antibiotics. Additionally, aminoglycosides can be more effective for treating infections in neonatal ICUs. Now, a new drug known as N1MS offers an effective alternative to aminoglycosides without the risk of hearing loss.
New Hope with N1MS
Understanding that aminoglycosides damage non-regenerating hair cells, scientists sought a way of hindering the ability of drug molecules to enter the cells’ channels. After years of research, they created N1MS. Developed from a type of aminoglycosides known as sisomicin, N1MS may prevent cochlear hair cell and hearing loss while retaining the infection-fighting qualities of the toxic form of the drug. According to the researchers, the new N1MS drug treated urinary tract infections in mice without leading to any of the usual side effects like deafness and kidney issues.
As of now, scientists have yet to test N1MS in human subjects. However, the doctors involved in the study feel hopeful that the modified antibiotic will yield positive results there as well. Should the human tests prove successful, patients will no longer have to choose between staving off potentially life-threatening infections and protecting their hearing.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!