Mifepristone may halt growth of intracranial tumor that causes hearing loss
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IMAGE: Vestibular schwannoma cells from an untreated tumor. view more 

Credit: Massachusetts Eye and Ear

Boston, Mass. –Massachusetts Eye and Ear researchers have shown that mifepristone, a drug currently FDA-approved for chemical abortion, prevents the growth of vestibular schwannoma (also known as acoustic neuroma) cells. This sometimes-lethal intracranial tumor typically causes hearing loss and tinnitus. The findings, published online today in Scientific Reports, suggest that mifepristone is a promising drug candidate to be repositioned for the treatment of these tumors.

“Currently, there are no FDA-approved drugs for vestibular schwannomas or the associated hearing loss,” said Konstantina Stankovic, M.D., Ph.D., an ear and skull base surgeon and auditory neuroscientist at Mass. Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School who led the study. “Therefore, there is an unmet medical need to discover drugs with minimal adverse effects that would treat this tumor and reduce or obviate the need for surgery and radiation.”

Although histologically non-malignant, vestibular schwannomas are dangerous due to their location. Arising from the Schwann cells of the vestibular (balance) nerve, these tumors can grow to the point of damaging nearby structures — and can lead to death by compressing the brainstem. By compressing nerves in the internal auditory

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