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Randomized, placebo-controlled study on efficacy, safety and tolerability of drug-induced defibrinogenation for sudden sensorineural hearing loss: the lessons learned

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2023 Mar 7. doi: 10.1007/s00405-023-07896-z. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: Disturbance of cochlear microcirculation is discussed as final common pathway of various inner ear diseases. Hyperfibrinogenemia causing increased plasma viscosity is a possible factor for a critical reduction of cochlear blood flow that might lead to sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL). The aim was to determine the efficacy and safety of drug-induced defibrinogenation by ancrod for SSHL.

METHODS: Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter, parallel group, phase II (proof-of-concept) study (planned enrollment: 99 patients). Patients received an infusion of ancrod or placebo (day 1) followed by subcutaneous administrations (day 2, 4, 6). Primary outcome was the change in pure tone audiogram air conduction average until day 8.

RESULTS: The study was terminated early due to slow recruiting (31 enrolled patients: 22 ancrod, 9 placebo). A significant improvement of hearing loss was registered in both groups (ancrod: – 14.3 dB ± 20.4 dB, – 39.9% ± 50.4%; placebo: – 22.3 dB ± 13.7 dB, – 59.1% ± 38.0%). A statistically significant group-difference was not detected (p = 0.374). Placebo response of 33.3% complete and 85.7% at least partial recovery was observed. Plasma fibrinogen levels were reduced significantly by ancrod (baseline: 325.2 mg/dL, day 2: 107.2 mg/dL). Ancrod was tolerated well, no adverse drug reaction was of severe intensity, no serious adverse events occurred.

CONCLUSION: Ancrod reduced fibrinogen levels that support its mechanism of action. The safety profile can be rated positively. Since the planned number of patients could not be enrolled, no efficacy conclusion can be drawn. The high rate of placebo response challenges clinical trials for SSHL and needs to be considered in future investigations. Trial registrations This study was registered in the EU Clinical Trials Register, EudraCT-No. 2012-000066-37 at 2012-07-02.

PMID:36881166 | DOI:10.1007/s00405-023-07896-z

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