Modifying Aminoglycoside Eliminates Hearing Loss Side Effect

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A new version of a common antibiotic may allow patients to be treated without the risk of hearing loss.

A new version of a common antibiotic may allow patients to be treated without the risk of hearing loss, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Patients who take an aminoglycoside, the most commonly used class of antibiotics worldwide, risk a 20% to 60% chance of losing their hearing permanently. However, researchers at the Stanford University of Medicine recently tested a modified version of an aminoglycoside that works in mice without the adverse side effects of deafness or kidney damage.

Often prescribed when other antibiotics fail, aminoglycosides are active against aerobic Gram-negative bacteria and can be used to treat pneumonia, peritonitis, and sepsis.

In a press release, the researchers said they would like to test the new version in humans as soon as possible.

“If we can eventually prevent people from going deaf from taking these antibiotics, in my mind, we will have been successful,” said Anthony Ricci, PhD, professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery and co-senior author of the study, in the press release. “Our goal is to replace the existing aminoglycosides with ones that aren’t toxic.”

In creating this modified drug, the researchers set out to maintain the efficacy of the antibiotic while preventing it from entering the inner ear cell’s ion channels. Of the 9 different compounds they created, the researchers pinpointed 1 derivative, N1MS, that was the most effective against bacteria.

The researchers successfully treated a mouse’s bladder infection caused by Escherichia coli without harming the mouse’s hearing with the compound.

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