The coronavirus pandemic has had a surprising benefit for cystic fibrosis patients. Dr. Perry Brown, with the St. Luke's Idaho Cystic Fibrosis Center, says they're seeing fewer hospitalized pediatric patients since people are wearing masks and social distancing. A big part of CF is chronic respiratory infections, and the best way to manage that is with antibiotics. However, using these antibiotics can affect the kidneys and hearing for many adult CF patients.
Brian Devine has seen many advancements in his 45 years of living with cystic fibrosis.
"Back then, there was very little known about cystic fibrosis and very little treatment, and it just progressed drastically over the last several years," said Devine.
One of the most significant advancements was the FDA approval for a drug called TriKafta last year. Medications like this get on the market because of people like Devine, participating in medical trials.
"Without that these drugs wouldn't get out to others they wouldn't get FDA approved for people to be able to use them," said Devine, "And the big benefit is kids growing up now can get on these medicines that do get approved because of people like me that get on these trials."
Brian is one of several adult cystic fibrosis patients participating in a new study. The Sound Study aims to stop or improve the damage caused to the inner ear from the daily use of antibiotics CF patients need.
"Part of the management of those infections is the use of antibiotics, and one of the key classes of antibiotics that we use is a class called aminoglycosides," said Dr. Brown,
"They can cause nephrotoxicity, which is kidney damage, and the other is a thing called ototoxicity, which is damage to hearing and vestibular system."
These antibiotics can cause kidney damage, hearing damage, and balance issues.
"Mine was more of vertigo and dizziness and the traditional ringing in your ears, that's something that's kind of always been with me with the antibiotic use, so that's what I was hoping to see this comes to market," said Devine.
The clinic has anywhere from 3 to 8 clinical trials going at a time. In his career, Dr. Brown has helped with studies leading to five drugs and a new medical device for cystic fibrosis patients.
"it's also the only way we know to develop new therapies and drugs to be approved by the FDA to be widely available for patients," said Brown.
This study can potentially help other patients outside of those with Cystic Fibrosis.
"The beautiful thing about this study is the benefit of this drug extends far beyond cystic fibrosis, there's other disease categories in which patients re frequently exposed to ototoxic medication," said Brown.
The trial is still being studied, but Brian and the center are hopeful it will help get it on the market.
"The benefit, in the long run, is that it will eventually help get close to FDA approval, and people can use it," said Devine.