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Digging deeper to save lives and hearing

Drs. Stewart, Robinson and Wang

Cisplatin is one of the most widely used anti-cancer drugs. The medication plays a central role in treating a variety of brain and other solid tumors in children and adults. Many patients treated with the drug also have serious side effects like hearing loss.

St. Jude scientists suspected that differences in the genetic makeup of patients might play a role. Researchers checked the DNA of 238 young brain tumor patients for more than 1.7 million common inherited variations. The search led to a gene named ACYP2. Certain versions of the gene were associated with more than a four-fold greater risk of rapid and often severe hearing loss following cisplatin treatment. Every child in this study who had the newly identified high-risk version of the gene suffered hearing loss.

The findings may help clinicians identify and manage patients who have a higher risk of developing hearing loss due to cisplatin treatment.

The study was published online in the scientific journal Nature Genetics. The corresponding authors are Jun J. Yang, PhD, and Clinton Stewart, PharmD, both of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Giles Robinson, MD, Oncology, is the co-first author.

February 9, 2015

Read the news release