Young children affected by glue ear could soon see the condition treated by drugs, rather than the need to insert grommets.

Glue ear is the biggest cause of hearing loss in children and one of the commonest operations, with some 30,000 procedures to insert grommets every year. Glue ear usually occurs after an infection, and sees fluid build up in the middle ear.

But research by scientists at the Medical Research Council (MRC) in London and experts at the University of Oxford, discovered that an existing cancer drug could be highly effective in the treatment of the condition.

The found the drug was hugely successful in trials with mice, and hope to commence human trials within the next five years.

Professor Steve Brown, director of the MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit, said: "We have found the molecule which when produced too much in children causes glue ear and can have very serious effects on their hearing, language and social development.

"We believe it holds out significant promise of a drug treatment resolving the lack of oxygen supply to the middle ear.

"The fact that these drugs are already on the market means that the time and cost needed to develop them into a new treatment for glue ear could be dramatically reduced."

Posted by Robert Mair