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Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Britt Drögemöller

December 14, 2022

A Hopeful Tune in Preventing Hearing Loss for Cancer Patients

Dr. Britt Drögemöller’s pilot study aims to use genetic information to predict who is going to experience hearing loss during chemotherapy.

Dr. Britt Drögemöller has been working to understand why certain people experience hearing loss after chemotherapy treatments, whether their genes play a role, and what can be done to combat this adverse effect. As Dr. Drögemöller puts it, “things are going very well,” and she is hopeful of what is to come.

Her team has been able to develop a genetic score—a model that determines if an individual will develop certain side effects—and has found that it is predictive of hearing loss.

This led Dr. Drögemöller to collaborate with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which has eight clinics across the United States, to focus on children’s cancer. The collaboration, along with her role as the Head of the Cancer Pharmacogenomics Special Interest Group in the Pharmacogenomics Global Research Network, will allow Dr. Drögemöller to test her genetic score on independent groups of patients.

The recently released database “Gene Expression Analysis Resource” has also allowed Dr. Drögemöller to build on her study’s approaches using publicly available single cell sequencing data.

Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a drug to use alongside chemotherapy drugs, which has been shown to reduce hearing loss by about 50 percent. Dr. Drögemöller’s study will help determine which patients should receive the additional protective agent.

There is still a lot of work to be done to verify the results, “but with everything we have done, we have more ideas that we want to build on,” says Dr. Drögemöller, who hopes to use a further study to verify the results of her current one.

Dr. Drögemöller with several of her lab members.

“In a perfect world, we could investigate genetic information for each patient, predict who is at high risk, and create tailored treatments to prevent the occurrence of these side effects without reducing the effectiveness of cancer treatments,” she says.

Dr. Drögemöller’s study wouldn’t be possible without supporters like you. The HSC Foundation extends a special thank you to our Honourary Directors who provided support for Dr. Drögemöller’s grant.

 

To learn more about HSC Foundation’s grant recipients, please visit our our grants page. To help our researchers raise the bar in health care excellence, please donate to our Innovation HSC annual campaign by clicking here or calling the Foundation at 204-515-5612 or 1-800-679-8493 (toll-free).

By Andrew Lysack