New version of common antibiotic could eliminate risk of hearing loss

This is a note of personal interest, since my acute hearing loss was caused by antibiotics that damaged the nerve cells of my cochlea. This is truly a breakthrough that took decades to solve.

cochlea

From Stanford University Medical Center:

On Christmas Eve, 2002, Bryce Faber was diagnosed with a deadly cancer called neuroblastoma. The 2-year-old’s treatment, which, in addition to surgery, included massive amounts of radiation followed by even more massive amounts of antibiotics, no doubt saved his life. But those same mega-doses of antibiotics, while staving off infections in his immunosuppressed body, caused a permanent side effect: deafness.

“All I remember is coming out of treatment not being able to hear anything,” said Bryce, now a healthy 14-year-old living in Arizona. “I asked my mom, ‘Why have all the people stopped talking?'” He was 90 percent deaf.

“The loss has been devastating,” said his father, Bart Faber. “But not as devastating as losing him would have been.”

Treatment with aminoglycosides, the most commonly used class of antibiotics worldwide, is often a lifesaving necessity. But an estimated 20-60 percent of all patients who receive these antibiotics suffer partial or complete hearing loss.

Now, in a study that will be published online Jan. 2 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine report that they have developed a modified version of an aminoglycoside that works effectively in mice without the risk of causing deafness or kidney damage, another common side effect.

The researchers hope to test versions of the modified antibiotic 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. “Our goal is to replace the existing aminoglycosides with ones that aren’t toxic.”

Four years in the making

It took the scientists four years of research to produce 5 grams of the newly patented antibiotic, N1MS, which is derived from sisomicin, a type of aminoglycoside.

N1MS cured urinary tract infection in mice just as well as sisomcicin, but did not cause deafness, study results show. The study presents a promising new approach to generating a new class of novel, nontoxic antibiotics, Ricci said.

The two senior authors — Ricci and Alan Cheng, MD, associate professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery — joined forces in 2007 to explore the idea of creating new and improved versions of these antibiotics based on a simple yet groundbreaking idea born of Ricci’s basic science research into the biophysics of how hearing works within the inner ear.

“It’s a nice example of how basic science research is directly translatable into clinical applications,” said Ricci.

Ricci is an expert on the process by which sound waves open ion channels within the sensory hair cells of the inner ear, allowing their conversion to electrical signals that eventually reach the brain.

Because aminoglycosides cause deafness by killing these nonregenerating hair cells, Ricci postulated, why not simply make the drug molecules unable to enter the cells’ channels?

The idea made sense to Cheng.

“As a clinician-scientist, I treat kids with hearing loss,” Cheng said. “When a drug causes hearing loss it is devastating, and it’s especially disturbing when this happens to a young child as they rely on hearing to acquire speech.

“When I came to Stanford seven years ago from the University of Washington, I was exploring the angle that maybe we could add drugs to protect the ear from toxicity. Tony brought up this new idea: Why don’t we just not let the drug get in? Great idea, I thought. When do we start to work?”

A potent antibiotic

For 20 years, and despite newer, alternative antibiotics, aminoglycosides have remained the mainstay treatment worldwide for many bacterial diseases, including pneumonia, peritonitis and sepsis. They also are often used when other antibiotics have failed to treat infections of unknown origins.

Their popularity is due, in part, to their low cost, lack of need for refrigeration and effectiveness at treating bacterial infections at a time when the declining potency of antibiotics is a major public health concern. They are frequently used in neonatal intensive care units to battle infections, or even the threat of infections, which pose a life-threatening risk for babies. Exactly how many premature babies suffer hearing loss as a side effect of treatment with the drug is unknown, Ricci said.

“The toxicity of these drugs is something we accept as a necessary evil,” said Daria Mochly-Rosen, PhD, director of SPARK, a program at Stanford that assists scientists in moving their discoveries from bench to bedside.

SPARK worked closely with Ricci and Cheng, providing both the funding and the expertise necessary as they entered the new landscape of drug development. “Being an expert on the inner ear put Dr. Ricci in a unique position to help design a better drug — one that would be a huge advantage, especially for premature babies,” Mochly-Rosen said. “This is a project that could make a huge difference in human health.”

For decades, researchers have looked for ways of preventing aminoglycosides from killing off the hearing cells of the inner ear, Ricci said.

“So many approaches have failed,” Ricci said. “The main problem has been that if you succeeded in stopping the drug from killing hair cells, then you also stopped its antimicrobial effect. The drug just doesn’t work anymore.”

The goal, Ricci said, was to keep the antibacterial properties of the drug intact while preventing it from entering the inner-ear cell’s ion channels. He and his fellow researchers used data from structural biologists at Stanford who better understood how the antibiotics fought off infection.

“We figured, well, let’s not mess with that part of the drug,” Ricci said. “We targeted sites on the drug molecule that were not involved in the antimicrobial activity that kills off infection. This allowed us to reduce toxicity to the ear while retaining antimicrobial action.”

The researchers made nine different compounds derived from sisomicin. All nine were significantly less toxic than sisomicin to hair cells when tested in the laboratory. Three of the nine were comparable to sisomicin in inhibiting the growth of and killing E. coli bacteria. Of the three derivatives, however, N1MS was the most effective against the bacteria, and the researchers used it to successfully treat E. coli-caused bladder infection in a mouse model while leaving hearing intact. They also found that, unlike the parent compound, N1MS was nontoxic to the kidneys.

“We postulate that entry into kidney cells is also through a channel, and so entry is reduced here as well,” Ricci said. “It is speculation at this point because unlike with the hair cell, we have not measured drug entry into the kidney cells, but it seems reasonable.”

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43 thoughts on “New version of common antibiotic could eliminate risk of hearing loss

  1. Sounds like very good news.
    But there are many steps between working in mice and a usable medicine.
    Here’s hoping for rapid progress.

    • No kidding many climate scientists are doing good job.
      I have no doubt on integrity of Carl Mears, for example, even when he calls certain people cherry-pickers and denialists, because he openly admits possible errors in RSS and has guts to admit that despite many theories, the current lower troposphere nonwarming is a puzzle.

      • Maybe he is a “good” scientist, but can one trust a man’s integrity when he denounces others as denialists, just like that, wihout any provocation, as if it were a perfectly acceptable phrase? Seems to me he is an alarmist lurking in lukewarm water.

      • There is nothing good with associating people who equate people who question the science with people who denied the holocaust.
        There is nothing good with not knowing the difference between applied science and speculative theory.
        Applied science has the ability to eventually cure neuroblastoma without causing deafness.
        Applied science can break the Germans enigma codes and help win the War.
        Speculative theory like Climate science only has application when it uses governments to stroke it’s vanity and make itself pretend relevant.

      • It seems to me that a “scientist” who admits his models do not mimic events in the real world, but at the same time as calling people who do not believe in the models, is a believer first and scientist second. HE is mixing politics and science together.

      • sorry that should read: It seems to me that a “scientist” who admits the models do not mimic events in the real world, at the same time as calling people who do not believe in the models a denier, is a believer first and scientist second. He is mixing politics and science together.

    • Yes. They will try to do what they are paid to do. And if people are paid money to show that human CO2 emissions are “bad” then, by golly, some of them will do just that. And some of them will believe themselves.
      Now, do we want to pay people to cure diseases, or pay people to go searching for dragons?

  2. Interesting, as it is believed that streptomycin (an aminoglycoside) administered in large doses many years previously was the cause of my nerve deafness. This is great news for future recipients of aminoglycosides but I live in hope that a means to reverse the nerve damage can be found as my deafness is progressive and is now moving into the area described as profound.

  3. Though ototoxicity has been a consistent concern with regard to the employment of any aminoglycoside antibiotic (gentamycin, amikacin, tobramycin), most pointedly worrisome has been the nephrotoxicity also relatively common as an adverse effect in the use of these drugs.
    It’s a damnsight more important that the N1MS compound had proven “nontoxic to the kidneys.”

    • @Tucci78 says: January 4, 2015 at 8:59 am
      I have a profoundly hard-of-hearing son who will certainly differ with you on that point. Partial or complete loss of hearing is a handicap that can never be compensated, nor overcome. Normal educational paths
      are difficult, if not impossible, and social development is impaired. Granted, when a child at birth has an infection that requires an almost-instant decision as to what and how to medicate, there is a life-and-death component that overrides all else, such that it might be “your hearing or your life”. But, thanks to these new medicines in the pipeline, such decisions will be increasingly rare.
      To class loss of hearing as trivial as compared to kidney issues is thoughtless. Sorry. Kidneys, worst case, can be transplanted. Hearing can’t. By the way, my son also had dialysis a number of times when he was in hospital, so I’ve seen both sides of that.

      • At 5:17 PM on 4 January, Jeff (who’s obviously never come close to even learning about the management of solid-organ transplant, much less the rigors of caring for patients in end-stage renal failure), posts:

        I have a profoundly hard-of-hearing son who will certainly differ with you on that point. Partial or complete loss of hearing is a handicap that can never be compensated, nor overcome. Normal educational paths are difficult, if not impossible, and social development is impaired. Granted, when a child at birth has an infection that requires an almost-instant decision as to what and how to medicate, there is a life-and-death component that overrides all else, such that it might be “your hearing or your life”. But, thanks to these new medicines in the pipeline, such decisions will be increasingly rare.
        To class loss of hearing as trivial as compared to kidney issues is thoughtless. Sorry. Kidneys, worst case, can be transplanted.

        Gad, the glaring idiocy of arrogant willful ignorance. Ain’t this guy amazing? Not only thought-blocking on chronic hemodialysis but trivializing renal transplant, which latter measure – if a tissue match can be managed at all – almost invariably requires immunosuppressive regimens which leave the patient perilously vulnerable to the development of deadly infections and malignancies for the rest of their lives.
        And that’s if the transplanted organ isn’t rejected.
        (Pardon the Wiki-bloody-pedia references, but I’m going for “lowest common denominator” with this zero-perspective illiterate. And like this guy has the least conception about either drug development generally or such specific new chemical entities among potentially useful antibiotics so blithely assumed to be “in the pipeline”?)
        Given the LIFE OR DEATH CONSEQUENCES associated with aminoglycoside-induced renal failure (nephrotoxicity incidence is estimated at about 15% in cases where drugs in this category have been administered), you betcher ass that the prospects for debilitating ototoxicity (estimated at about 5% incidence), while never ever dismissed by any clinician as “trivial,” tend to pale in comparison. We don’t want anything adverse to happen to our patients, but the stuff that makes for nightmares among those of us who have had to balance the risk of possible antibiotic-related kidney knockout against the near-certainty of death in a patient suffering Pseudomonas-induced septicemia is obviously nothing this Jeff guy has ever had to address.
        I won’t be guilt-tripped by noisy outrage on the part of people directly or indirectly experienced with aminoglycoside-induced hearing loss when they’re confronted with appreciation of the far more dire consequences of drug-induced end-stage renal disease (ESRD) until I read it from someone with the education, training, and experience to put these problems in proper context. Anybody reading here with particular expertise in nephrology, infectious diseases, or pharmacology?

      • Jeff,
        My intent is to offer some helpful insight that can help you, and your son, have a happier life.
        I have been profoundly deaf.
        Yes, that’s “have been” as my eardrums were re-made surgically and my nerve damage healed / recovered partially. I’m now only “partly deaf”.
        In short, I know exactly what it means to be deaf, and to have hearing partially restored.
        Deafness is a PITA, but not a catastrophe. Especially if you simply embrace the deaf community. My spouse and I first met in a sign language class. She has a family history of late life deafness and was interested in being prepared. At present, we are both able to hear enough to speak to each other, but her loss is catching up to mine and we will likely be signing more than talking in the next few years… we already sign in a variety of circumstances such as loud rooms, or when too far away to hear. Signing is as effective as English for most things, and more effective for others. (Yes, MORE effective. In American Sign Language, you can adjust the size of the sign motion to indicate just ‘how much’. Not limited to “little”, “medium”, or “heavy”, the sign for “snow” can be made with size, speed, and motion to accurately describe just how much, which direction, and the emotional impact of it. All in one sign.)
        Simply accepting that deafness is a part of life, and adopting sign, fixes many of the issues. A deaf child in a deaf school is fully able to develop language skills, socialize, and do everything other kids do. While not feeling out of place at all. (Even dance class and playing football – in dance the musical vibrations are felt, and motion to match in dance still feels good 😉
        Now, the kicker: The profoundly deaf part of my life was the most peaceful time I’ve ever experienced, before or after. Angry people hollering at you just look funny. Industrial noise is gone. All the ugly sounds of a not very pleasant city go away. Concentration and peaceful ‘centered’ feelings are much easier. Another deaf friend (who I knew prior to my loss) had one ear rebuilt. He would complain that he liked it better without the ear, since he could turn off his bone conduction hearing aid. I thought he was pulling my leg. But now I know. Profoundly deaf is also profoundly peaceful. Even now I sometimes wish I could just make things quiet again.
        So I class deafness as an inconvenience, at most, and an occasional feature. As I age and my hearing once again fades, I’m not worried about it. Sometimes I look forward to it. A bit of a day to day PITA, but a notepad cures a lot of issues; in exchange for a very peaceful world… and the beauty of a visual language of words painted in the air… It isn’t something that needs to be “overcome”, just accepted and moved past.
        If you can, sign up for a sign language class and seek out the local deaf community. (A local starbucks has a once-a-week deaf night and the whole place is taken over by deaf folks – hands flying as conversations can be from anywhere in the room to any other place in the room… far LESS isolated than trying to talk in a loud room). It’s just a bunch of folks living life like everyone else, and enjoying it.
        Frankly, the worst part of it all is folks thinking less of you, or wanting to be ‘sorry’ about it. It just isn’t that way at all. The only thing I really missed was music. That was a loss, but all the rest was not a problem. It is actually harder in some ways being only partially deaf, as you keep trying to interact with the hearing world on their terms, and with those frustrations. The ‘other way’ has such features as if you want to ‘shut someone up’, you just close your eyes 😉 ( I lip read to some extent…) So you can be in a room and if you want to disappear someone annoying, just turn your back and look at someone else. Easy… Reading speed for me went up some, as I wasn’t as prone to caring about the sound of the words and was moving more into visual language.
        Hopefully this helps. Knowing that life as profoundly deaf was not all bad. (Frankly, it was far far worse being blind. I had burned corneas and could not see worth beans for a few months; then they healed… I’d not want to deal with blindness… deafness was easy.) Just embrace your son as who he is, and let him learn the language suited to his life – sign. And introduce him to the deaf community and deaf schools. In that environment, it’s the hearing folks who are handicapped…

      • This is to Tucci78 – lose the ad homs. If you cannot justify your argument(s) with reason and explanation
        (and resorting to Wackypedia), then defer to someone who can, or just put a sock in it. It is neither necessary nor productive to insult someone when you are trying to make a point, nor is it fair to denigrate a distressingly large portion of the population because you have a particlar axe to grind.
        My son had a lot more issues than just hearing; indeed he was on the list to have a heart transplant, so I am well informed about the issues accompanying organ transplantation. He also was reanimated THREE times, and had pretty much complete systems shutdown (for lack of a better term), hence the need for repeated
        dialysis. I thank GOD that he has recovered (except for his hearing, from Aminoglycosides 11 years earlier), and I hope and pray that new treatments for sensioneuro and other hearing issues are found. I also hope and pray that other families don’t have to go through this, be it heart, hearing, kidneys, cancer, whatever.
        I won’t respond to your other insults: suffice it to say helpfulness and humility go a long way.
        To Pamela Gray and E.M. Smith, thanks for your comments. We’re in Germany, so the “big D, little d” environment is different, and with the multitude of umlauted words it’s more difficult to lipread, although not
        impossible. Laws such as the ADA don’t really exist, but are on the way (one of the few things the EU is doing that I’m really happy about 🙂 ).
        To A n t h o n y, THANKS for this great blog, and also for the hearing articles/info you have from time to time.
        I’ve been trying to find if there have been (m)any results from the work of Dr. Stoecker, but a lot of his articles are paywalled; having said that, it’s early in the process, I’m sure. Starkey is starting to build a presence over here, so it’s interesting to hear they have promising technology.

        • [snip – I’m not interested in this food fight, you’ve been on moderation for awhile, take a 48 hour time out -Anthony]

    • You have missed an important point. The two systems, hearing and kidney function, are connected (I have studied this and published research on the use of certain types of hearing tests to detect early signs of nephrotoxicity before blood tests could detect it).
      As to which is worse, my mother suffered from both. Her ability to handle the kidney issue was quite impressive. Her ability to handle her hearing loss? Not so much.

      • At 8:00 PM on 4, January, Pamela Gray had claimed that I’d

        …missed an important point. The two systems, hearing and kidney function, are connected (I have studied this and published research on the use of certain types of hearing tests to detect early signs of nephrotoxicity before blood tests could detect it).
        As to which is worse, my mother suffered from both. Her ability to handle the kidney issue was quite impressive. Her ability to handle her hearing loss? Not so much.

        Proximal (personal and/or familial) experience notwithstanding, while detecting “early signs of nephrotoxicity” in aminoglycoside use is valuable, if you’ve got to use these drugs at all, the focus of the clinician is more on safe and effective ways to mitigate or avoid the adverse effects thereof. That’s why this N1MS development is (or ought to be) the cynosure of all eyes.
        Gee, what if you’re treating a life-threatening infection and withdrawing the aminoglycoside at the first sign of toxicity manifest in “hearing tests” isn’t much of an option?
        I used to teach my medical students to think about how they ordered diagnostic testing.
        “(1) If the test is positive, what are you gonna do?
        “(2) If the test is negative, what are you gonna do?
        “If the answer to (1) is the same as the answer to (2), why run the test?

      • Tucci, your answer is unbelievably inappropriate. If you indeed said that to medical students, you should consider not teaching them anything more about medicine. It speaks of the old ways of doing medicine and recalls the “butcher” epitaph.
        Patients need to be fully informed about the side effects of whatever drug or procedure that is being provided, BEFORE it is provided, and then should be fully informed of any occurrences of those side effects, which includes making sure you are watching for them with due diligence.
        Bad form. Bad teaching.

        • Confronted by the plainest kind of common sense as applied to clinical medicine:

          I used to teach my medical students to think about how they ordered diagnostic testing.
          “(1) If the test is positive, what are you gonna do?
          “(2) If the test is negative, what are you gonna do?
          “If the answer to (1) is the same as the answer to (2), why run the test?

          …at 6:01 AM on 5 January we’ve got Pamela Gray unsupportedly whining that this:

          …is unbelievably inappropriate. If you indeed said that to medical students, you should consider not teaching them anything more about medicine. It speaks of the old ways of doing medicine and recalls the “butcher” epitaph.

          Oh? Well, doubtless Pamela Gray prefers some new “ways of doing medicine,” emphasis on the “cookbook” models that’ve worked out so wonderfully well in big meatgrinder government bureaucracies like the Veterans’ Health Administration.
          Gee, what’s the “epitaph” wrapped around the workings of the Iron Law of Bureaucracy as applied to the practice of medicine?
          Pamela Gray doesn’t seem to have the least little goddam idea of the adverse consequences – REAL morbidity and REAL mortality – associated with the performance of diagnostic studies. Not just the risks directly associated with carrying out diagnostic investigations (ever had to perform an emergency laparotomy to repair a bowel perforated in the course of performing a colonoscopy, Ms. Gray?) but also the consequences of pursuing marginal deviations in findings outside the diagnostic laboratory’s range of normal findings for a particular study, the purpose rather more to “bulletproof” the clinician against possible or probable allegations of malpractice than to provide the patient with a genuinely practicable good clinical outcome.
          More from Ms. Gray:

          Patients need to be fully informed about the side effects of whatever drug or procedure that is being provided, BEFORE it is provided, and then should be fully informed of any occurrences of those side effects, which includes making sure you are watching for them with due diligence.
          Bad form. Bad teaching.

          And your own self-righteous bloody ignorance, Ms. Gray?
          Patients – and the caregivers upon whom most patients in perilous circumstances must rely for support – have to be as “fully informed” as possible as to the causes and likely course of the pathologies suspected or confirmed “BEFORE” treatment options are discussed, and – no surprise – the attitude of the conscientious layman “with skin in the game” is never very much divergent from the homely advice I’ve given to my medical students.
          “What happens if she takes this medicine or has this surgery – or both – and what happens if she doesn’t?
          It’s not just the potential for adverse effects but also the degree of therapeutic gain being sought, and the likelihood that it can be achieved. Big damn’ balancing act, with many different factors coming in and going out, interactions complex and commonly non-linear.
          Gee, kinda like climatology, ain’t it?
          Ms. Gray, do you really claim to know doo-dah about what the expression “due diligence” actually means in the practice of medicine? Or do you want technicians “doing medicine” the way that the jobholders down at the DMV get through their workdays?

  4. I’m not very familiar with this but from the little I know, and have seen, it appears that really significant progress has been made in this field, and in just the last decade or so. A young child I know, who suffered hearing loss due to the multiple operations he had underwent since birth, had been given the gift of a cochlear implant a few years back. And I’ve seen the extraordinary sophistication occurring in hearing aids (which, unfortunately, are not covered by Medicare or the supplemental insurance).
    Concerning a different issue, my former pulmanologist told me that one issue in medicine is to keep the world “large” for the patient. This wonderful doctor once said to me, “We want your world to remain large.” This holds true with both our senses and our activity.
    Best wishes Mr. Watts, and may your world remain as large as it is. And do so for many years to come.
    (And best wishes for all involved in the fight against those who wish to shrink our world.)

  5. Good news but mouse studies don’t always pan out for humans. Many years ago I read a study showing how scientists were able to grow new hair on bald mice. I was hopeful that I would soon be able to grow new hair on my balding head… or at least mouse fur. Well its been about 25 years since then and still no hair on my head, not even mouse fur. Bottom line is we ain’t mice.

    • Many EPA regs are based on animal studies.
      Should we start with people instead?
      Should we scrap all the regs at the EPA and the USDA based on or that started with animal research?
      Animal testing isn’t perfect or certain but it’s a start.
      PS For those out there opposed to all forms of animal testing. Did you know that the the emissions from whatever type of screen you’re viewing this on were tested on animals to be sure they were safe for humans?
      (If you don’t respond, I’ll understand.)

      • You are off base. There was nothing in the David S comment that was against animal testing. His point was it don’t always work, that is all. Sometimes you have to re-read before replying, or maybe you thought this was a PETA site.

      • Alx and David S, I don’t apologize for what I said but I do apologize for my “aim”. Sorry.

    • David, you no doubt know that God made only a few perfect heads–the rest he covered with hair. My husband is a little thin on the top and that is just fine with me. (But my 20-something sons, who are getting that way, not so much, for different reasons!)

    • The theme of this post is medical advances, and apropos of that David mentioned baldness. I hope I’m not too off-topic to mention this anecdote.
      A friend of mine was balding badly enough they decided to go completely head-shaven.
      His doctor gave him a medication that reversed the situation.
      The medication is called Finistride, in Australia. I’m not associated with it in any way. I have no idea if it works for everyone, or what it doesn’t go with, or whether there’s any side effects. So you must talk to your Doctor. My friend’s was premature balding; he plans to go bald after his children are older. You might be sufficiently happy with where you’re at to not bother. But there definitely is a hair restoration medication that works for some people at least.

  6. The link between the kidneys and the inner ear has been of great interest over many decades and one I have delved into myself. There are links embryonically between the inner ear and kidney systems. In the past, it was thought that these two systems must develop from the same embryonic cells and at similar stages and rates, due to the fact that abnormalities are significantly associated between the two systems. However, current research indicates the two systems are connected through gene expression, IE the same genetic-sourced processes are called into play during development but at different times. The following article might serve to deepen our background biological/anatomical understanding of the research Anthony has posted.
    “Half a century later, ear and kidney development has been characterized in great detail, demonstrating that embryologically, ear and kidney primordia arise at different times and develop at different rates Figure 1. Therefore, the association between ear and kidney anomalies is usually not due to an isolated insult to the embryo that would affect both developing structures at the same time. The genes responsible for hereditary deafness in humans and in vertebrate model systems have been recently identified. These serve as useful molecular markers, but more important, a number of these genes undoubtly play key roles in kidney and ear determination. Table 1 summarizes the findings in the various model systems to date. Recent identification of genes that are responsible for BOR syndrom and TBS, along with gene expression studies of these genes, has shown that these genes were expressed in developing ear and kidney structures at different times during morphogenesis.”
    http://www.nature.com/ki/journal/v65/n2/full/4494275a.html

  7. Thanks for the interesting article, Anthony. It is good to see WUWT broadening its cover to include news from scientific sources other than CAGW-land. It is good also to be reminded that not all science is corrupt.

    • Yes, I have wondered why the boss dropped his “Puzzling things in nature. . . ” description in the header in favor of the current “Most viewed site on global warming and climate change.” I understand tooting one’s horn, but was disappointed with the implication that science in general might now be off-limits. Used to be, if someone complained about “non-climate” posts in biology or astronomy, or other fields, we could point to the “Puzzling things” charter. I’m glad to see this fascinating post on medical research.
      /Mr Lynn

    • Science is about the closest thing we have to miracles. Not in the sense of being supernatural but in making extraordinary progress and invention common place. From walking on the moon, GPS, and satellites, to curing plagues and many diseases, heart and other transplants, world wide instantaneous communication and sharing of information, computers that fit in our shirt pockets, the list goes on and on and on.
      Yes many great things have occurred and are occurring in science, it is unfortunate climate science while getting the most attention provides the least value, if not outright harm.

  8. Anthony is alive and not dead because of antibiotics. But he’s suffered. He’s alive but grew up with an impairment most of us didn’t have.
    That he cares about an advancement that won’t help him personally but may genuinely help “the children” others put forth as an excuse for whatever it is they propose says something good about the man.
    I hope it proves as promising as it sounds. For the children’s sake.

  9. Interesting stuff. Since bacteria hang out outside cells, (viruses of course, hang out in the nuclei), keeping the antibiotic molecules outside the cell not only makes sense, it suggests the trials will have few surprises.
    I never knew about the connection between kidney and cochlear cells. How curious.

  10. Hoping nobody suffers as you have ever again Anthony.
    I have Ménière’s disease in one ear and it can be totally debilitating. When I get an attack, its hell.
    We live in hope!

  11. This is wonderful news. Let’s hope & pray that it can become a standard practice in the not too distant future! I am blessed with perfect hearing at 56 years of age, according to the physicians who checked it out a few years ago! I suffered from an ear infection in both ears affecting my hearing, & my ability to sing with my local church choir. It was so uncomfortable & distressing & painful not being able to hear properly, nor sing, nor play the guitar, so I can fully appreciate the gift I have, & I value my senses even more than ever before! This is great news, hopefully!

  12. Great news! Its sometimes surprising how much you can trim down drug molecules by removing side branches and other moieties whose loss does not take away the drug’s effectiveness, till you get to the essential core. I’ve seen it done with osteoporosis drugs also.
    Molecule size reduction can also lead to gains in ease of administration and better gut or blood uptake.
    Lets hope this is successfully fast-tracked through clinical phase I, II (and III if required) and gets into the hands of practitioners soon.
    This kind of breakthrough gives medical research including with animals a good name and helps to oppose the PETA breed of anti-science activism.

  13. Glad to learn of this work to reduce the risk of antibiotic induced deafness. Ototoxicity became very real to me recently as a fellow patient underwent a successful double lung transplant but awoke to deafness. The antibiotics are unavoidable and their side effects unpredictable at the individual level. We “signed up”, to that risk but it’s suddenly very real.
    The risk of deafness is probably one I push well to the back of my mind along with the big one. The risk is small enough and hopefully if I get a successful heart transplantation, it will give me a better quality of and longer life.

  14. My moniker is for good reason: I was a medical microbiologist (routine & research). Prescribing aminoglycocides was always based upon least worse outcome given the toxicity risks, especially in paediatrics. This is a remarkable development, and one, IMHO, worthy of a Nobel Prize if clinical trials work out as hoped.

  15. I have a vague memory of being in hospital in India in 1946. Never did find out why. I arrived in the UK in 1947 and started school in Larkhill. There it was discovered I was totally deaf in my left ear. Antibiotics maybe? My right ear was good so I did not have too many problems, Even gained a PPL in 1967 :-).
    In 1976, in South Africa, I fell ill with what I thought was a bad cold. I eventually dragged myself to the doctors surgery and was injected with antibiotics. Cured the cold but hearing in my right ear was severely impaired. Coincidence? Anyway, no more flying. Now I have a large hearing aid and much tinnitus but ONLY in the right ear! Every cloud has a silver lining. Being able to chuck the hearing aid whenever has many boons.

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