CILcare receives grant from the Occitanie Region to conduct research into potential ototoxic effects of investigated drugs for Covid-19

Montpellier, January 5th, 2021: CILcare, the world-leading CRO specialized in auditory research, is announcing the launch of its COVIDOTOTOX research project. Subsidized by the Occitanie Region at 87k€, the COVIDOTOTOX project aims to assess the potential side effects on the inner ear of some investigated drugs for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

In the frantic race for a coronavirus cure and based on available data attesting to significant ototoxic effects of chloroquine, CILcare is launching its COVIDOTOTOX project. This project places CILcare at the forefront of the mission to find safe treatment for Covid-19.

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which have been used to prevent or treat malaria for years, have been explored as treatment options for Covid-19. However, several epidemiological studies demonstrate significant ototoxic effects of these drugs. Over 90% of hearing loss is due to hair cell or auditory nerve damage. Unlike birds, fish and reptiles, mammals, and thus humans, are not able to regenerate hair cells, therefore, damage leads to irreversible hearing loss.

Hearing impairment is a huge public health concern with a dramatically rising prevalence. Nearly half a billion people suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus today, and the number is expected to reach 1 billion in 2050, according to the World Health Organization. More than 200 ototoxic medications are on the market, including certain classes of antibiotics, chemotherapeutics, drugs for erectile dysfunction, and currently some tested therapies for Covid-19. These can lead to side effects ranging from sudden hearing loss and tinnitus, to balance disorders.

“CILcare’s preclinical models will allow to rapidly screen and assess several molecules which are currently under investigation for treating Covid-19.”  comments Sylvie Pucheu, Chief Scientific Officer. “We believe our COVIDOTOTOX project will generate new data regarding the potential side effects of drugs being tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and overall, will play a fundamental role in protecting patients being treated for Covid-19.”

The first assays will start in early 2021. Chloroquine and other selected compounds will be assessed in comparison to cisplatin, a well-known ototoxic agent serving as a reference.

COVIDOTOTOX, valued at 197k€, is supported by the Occitanie Region.


Marie Peytavy-Izard

Director of Marketing & Business Development

+33 (0)7 69 74 19 05

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