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Aurora magazine

A neonatal genetic test to avoid deafness from aminoglycosides

A genetic test could be sufficient to prevent deafness in infants treated with aminoglycosides. G.">The team of Dr. John McDermott has developed a test that identifies the genetic variant m.1555A> G. Children with this variant, in fact, are likely to become deaf because of special antibiotics against sepsis.

Every year in the United Kingdom there are 90,000 admissions in neonatal intensive care. Almost half of the small patients receive antibiotic therapy, largely a combination of beta-lactams and gentamicin. In some rare cases, however, the class of antibiotics aminoglycosides causes deafness in younger patients. The phenomenon could be linked to a particular genetic predisposition.

The study shows the importance of a neonatal genetic test, so as to avoid the side effects of antibiotic therapy. Identifying patients with the mutation within one hour would allow doctors to prescribe alternative drugs. In this way 180 cases of deafness could be avoided every year.

Unfortunately, the genetic tests used to date in British hospitals require 3 days to give the first results. The test developed by McDermott requires only 40 minutes instead. It is a non-invasive test that requires only a small sample of cells to analyze DNA. The goal is to introduce the test in neonatal wards by the end of 2018.