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Growth-factor gel shows promise as hearing-loss treatment

A new treatment has been developed for sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), a condition that causes deafness in 40,000 Americans each year, usually in early middle-age. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Medicine describe the positive results of a preliminary trial of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), applied as a topical gel.

Takayuki Nakagawa, from Kyoto University, Japan, worked with a team of researchers to test the gel in 25 patients whose SSHL had not responded to the normal treatment of systemic gluticosteroids.

He said, "The results indicated that the topical IGF1 application using gelatin hydrogels was safe, and had equivalent or superior efficiency to the hyperbaric oxygen therapy that was used as a historical control; this suggests that the efficacy of topical IGF1 application should be further evaluated using randomized clinical trials".

At 12 weeks after the test treatment, 48% of patients showed hearing improvement, and the proportion increased to 56% at 24 weeks. No serious adverse events were observed. This is the first time that growth factors have been tested as a hearing remedy. According to Nakagawa, "Although systemic glucocorticoid application results in hearing recovery in some patients with SSHL, approximately 20% show no recovery. Topical IGF1 application using gelatin hydrogels is well tolerated and may be efficacious for these patients".

Notes to Editors

1. A Topical insulin-like growth factor 1 treatment using gelatin hydrogels for glucocorticoid-resistant sudden sensorineural hearing loss: a prospective clinical trial
Takayuki Nakagawa, Tatsunori Sakamoto, Harukazu Hiraumi, Yayoi S Kikkawa, Norio Yamamoto, Kiyomi Hamaguchi, Kazuya Ono, Masaya Yamamoto, Yasuhiko Tabata, Satoshi Teramukai, Shiro Tanaka, Harue Tada, Rie Onodera, Atsushi Yonezawa, Ken-ichi Inui and Juichi Ito

BMC Medicine (in press)

2. BMC Medicine - the flagship medical journal of the BMC series - publishes original research articles, commentaries and reviews in all areas of medical science and clinical practice. To be appropriate for BMC Medicine, articles need to be of outstanding quality, broad interest and special importance. BMC Medicine (ISSN 1741-7015) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, BIOSIS, CAS, EMBASE, Scopus, Current Contents, Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Google Scholar.

3. BioMed Central ( is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.

Graeme Baldwin | EurekAlert!
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