Hearing loss caused by noise, aging, antibiotics, and chemotherapy affects 10% of the world population, yet there are no Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs to prevent it. Here, we screened 162 small-molecule kinase-specific inhibitors for reduction of cisplatin toxicity in an inner ear cell line and identified dabrafenib (TAFINLAR), a BRAF kinase inhibitor FDA-approved for cancer treatment. Dabrafenib and six additional kinase inhibitors in the BRAF/MEK/ERK cellular pathway mitigated cisplatin-induced hair cell death in the cell line and mouse cochlear explants. In adult mice, oral delivery of dabrafenib repressed ERK phosphorylation in cochlear cells, and protected from cisplatin- and noise-induced hearing loss. Full protection was achieved in mice with co-treatment with oral AZD5438, a CDK2 kinase inhibitor. Our study explores a previously unidentified cellular pathway and molecular target BRAF kinase for otoprotection and may advance dabrafenib into clinics to benefit patients with cisplatin- and noise-induced ototoxicity.
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