Saturday, June 23, 2018

Cyanide drug cuts hearing loss in half in children treated for liver cancer

Photo courtesy of CDC Early Hearing Detection and
Intervention program
CANCER DIGEST – June 21, 2018 – A drug used as an antidote to cyanide poisoning reduces hearing loss by nearly 50 percent in children treated with chemotherapy for liver cancer, researchers say.

The drug is sodium thiosulphate (STS) and has been used for decades primarily as an antidote to cyanide poisoning, and is also used as a chemical to reduce excess chlorine levels in swimming pools. In the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, British researchers led by Dr. Penelope Brock for Cancer Research UK treated children with a rare type of childhood liver cancer called hepatoblastoma.

In the study, 109 children were treated with the chemotherapy called cisplatin and half of them were also given STS six hours after the chemotherapy. The results showed that 63 percent of the children treated with cisplatin alone suffered some hearing loss, only 33 percent of those who also received STS had hearing loss, a 48 percent reduction in the risk of the side effect.

Previous research at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, OR had shown that STS could reduce hearing loss, but administration of the drug also interfered with the cisplatin. The Cancer Research UK researchers worked out the optimal timing of administration of STS so as to not interfere with the anti-cancer effects of cisplatin, which turns out to be six hours after the chemotherapy.

"This treatment combination could help ensure that parents aren't faced with an upsetting scenario where successful cancer treatment comes at the cost of their child's hearing," said Dr. Brock in a press release.

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