October 25, 2013
SIU med school receives federal grant to study hearing loss in cancer patients
A research scientist at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield has been awarded a five-year federal grant to study hearing loss in cancer patients. The grant is from the National Cancer Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health, and has a total budget of $1.5 million.
Vickram Ramkumar, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and a member of the research team at Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU, is the principal investigator for the project. Other collaborators are Dr. Leonard Rybak, professor, and Debbie Mukherjea, Ph.D., assistant professor, both in surgery; Theresa Liberati, Ph.D., DVM, assistant professor of internal medicine and director of laboratory animal medicine; and Steve Verhulst, Ph.D., professor of statistics and research consulting, all SIU School of Medicine; and Edward Navarre, Ph.D., Tim McPherson, Ph.D., and Bill Kolling, Ph.D., all professors of pharmaceutical sciences at SIU Edwardsville.
This research is testing the ability of an investigational drug, transplatin, to protect against side effects of cisplatin, a drug commonly used to treat cancer. Cisplatin therapy often causes significant hearing loss and acute kidney failure in patients. Ramkumar’s preliminary studies in animals have shown that transplatin protects against cisplatin-induced hearing loss and nephrotoxicity (kidney damage). This study will collect data from animal studies to be used for applying to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for clinical trials of transplatin as a treatment for cancer patients. Transplatin was discovered as a possible treatment by Ramkumar, who currently has a patent pending on the drug.
Ramkumar’s research, which totals $3 million, has been funded for 19 years by the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and National Organization of Hearing Research. His previous research has focused on the role of adenosine receptors in cardiovascular and auditory systems and in the treatment of prostate cancer.
Ramkumar joined the SlU faculty in 1992. He earned his doctoral degree from the University of Maryland at Baltimore (1986) and his bachelor’s degree from Anderson College in Anderson, Ind. (1978).