Alexandria's research to prevent drug induced hearing loss at WSU Vancouver
You may not have guessed that hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the U.S. So where do we go to find answers to questions like, "where's the damage coming from?" and more importantly, "what can we do to prevent it?" Suppose I were to tell you that one of the most common causes of hearing loss comes from antibiotics that we take when we get sick. Would the answer be to stop taking those type of drugs, or do we have a responsibility to find out what's in these drugs that's causing the damage? But how do we do that? Well, the answer to that question is even more intriguing. [upbeat guitar] Our hearing depends critically on hair cells that transduce sound stimuli into electrical impulses. These cells can be damaged by a variety of factors, one of them being the use of aminoglycoside antibiotics. Although they are helpful in fighting against life-threatening bacterial infections, they have the adverse side effect of killing the hearing cells in our ear.
In mammals these cells do not regenerate. So once they're gone, they're gone for good and so is the quality of our hearing. My research currently uses zebrafish to study how to prevent drug induced hearing loss.
My goal is to develop a new drug to prevent this type of damage. Larval zebrafish have hearing cells on the outside of their body that are a lot like the cells in our ear that allow us to hear. The fact that they are located externally makes them easy to manipulate pharmacologically. My dissertation involves drug discovery for compounds that can mitigate the noxious effects aminoglycosides have on our hair cells. I aim to understand the mechanism and specific targets of protection which will aid in the long-term goal of developing a therapeutic treatment that can protect our hair cells, and thus our hearing. Simply put, we want to understand how these antibiotics are causing this hair cell damage and what we can do to stop it.
I came to WSU Vancouver in 2015 with a B.S. In biochemistry from Santa Clara University. I came specifically to take part in Dr. Allison Coffin's lab, and as a graduate student I've been able to not only conduct independent research, but also co-author a book chapter related to my work. I've also given presentations at multiple international conferences and workshops that allowed me to bring new techniques to the lab and make connections with other scientists around the world. My name is Alexandria Camino and I am a student at WSU Vancouver. [uplifting vocals] [happy guitar pluck].
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