Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

Cancer Drug Has Potential To Treat Chronic Ear Infections

I read with astonishment that a class of cancer drugs known as VEGF Inhibitors (ie, Avastin and Erbitux) used to treat colorectal, lung, breast, and kidney cancers can also be used to potentially treat a type of chronic ear infection known as glue ear… at least in theory and in mice. Glue ear is when an individual suffers from repetitive ear infections or upper respiratory infections to the point where the fluid in the ear turns into a maple syrup consistency. It’s thick, sticky and tough to get rid of with standard antibiotic medications. Standard treatment to address glue ear is placement of ear tubes to allow ventilation and drainage of the ear as well as antibiotic/steroid ear drops.

British researchers using the mouse model have determined that an underlying hypoxic (low oxygen) environment in the middle ear leads to glue ear and that by mediating aniogenesis (blood vessel growth) by regulating VEGF receptors (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor), may prevent glue ear from occurring by addressing the root cause (hypoxic environment). VEGF inhibitors are typically monoclonal antibodies that prevent new blood vessels from forming via blocking VEGF receptors.

Given a vial of anti-VEGF costs on upwards of $10,000 versus not even $100 for an ear tube, the economics of this potential treatment just does not make sense at this time. Even if the costs were more comparative, I’m not sure most people will go for a treatment normally used to treat cancer to address a benign condition.

However, to be fair, this class of cancer medicine has been repurposed to treat other benign conditions including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy, so who knows?

It’s also been considered for use to treat severe nosebleeds due to HHT (Osler-Weber-Rendu).

Maybe someday in the near future after further research, not only will we have antibiotic ear drops, but also anti-VEGF ear drops!!!

Reference:
HIF–VEGF Pathways Are Critical for Chronic Otitis Media in Junbo and Jeff Mouse Mutants. PLoS Genet 7(10): e1002336. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002336

*This blog post was originally published at Fauquier ENT Blog*


You may also like these posts

Read comments »


Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »