As a child, Peter Steyger, Ph.D., was given an aminoglycoside antibiotic to treat a severe case of meningitis. While this type of antibiotic is incredibly effective at treating life-threating infections, Dr. Steyger can tell you all about one of the drug’s potential side effects: deafness.
Forty-eight years later, Dr. Steyger has finally discovered how those antibiotics caused his hearing loss. He found that the antibiotics cross a “blood-layrinth” barrier in the inner ear that transports essential nutrients. By finding this barrier, he hopes that researchers can eventually block the antibiotics from crossing it, thereby preventing deafness in as many as 50,000 Americans per year.
Dr. Steyger’s paper, published earlier this month in Nature’s Scientific Reports, is definitely worth the read. He’s been at the Oregon Hearing Research Center at OHSU for the past 14 years, where he is an associate professor of otolaryngology/head and neck surgery.