Silicon-chip technology creating a better eardrum

The ability to hear well is fundamental to the development of speech and language. It is crucial a child with a hearing loss is identified early, and given immediate access to an intervention to maximise the child’s ability to communicate, their hearing and their future development.

Research into new and innovative treatments for hearing loss is at the heart of Ear Science. We believe that our research will help millions of children worldwide to give the prospect of a future without hearing loss.

Developing a world-first artificial eardrum for the treatment of Chronic Middle Ear Disease
Ear Science researchers are at the international forefront of research on the eardrum. Whilst Ear Science’s ClearDrumTM is on the path to clinical trials, the research team led by Dr Filippo Valente is working on a pipeline of further discovery and innovation in biomaterials.

Utilising a specialised process usually used to make silicon chips, Dr Valente and his team are modifying the physical characteristics of new medical devices to help regenerate the damaged eardrum tissue.

This work opens the door to creating materials that better replicate the natural eardrum, and precision medicine for an easier, faster, and more effective treatment of eardrum disease.

Dr Valente has conducted this work in collaboration with the BRITElab at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, the Institute for Frontier Materials at Deakin University, and other national and international collaborators.

A healthy eardrum is vital for good hearing
Perforation of the eardrum is common in children with chronic ear disease. Surgery is often required to treat chronic ear disease, but the researchers at Ear Science Institute Australia see enormous potential for improvement in the way we treat chronic ear disease that will require only endoscopic surgery or even in-office operations, in contrast to the usual microscopic surgery.

All children will experience the pain of an ear infection once or twice throughout their lives. However, for those with chronic middle ear disease, their suffering is ongoing.

Ear Science’s research team is working tirelessly on a world-first device that will change the treatment of hearing loss. The technology is truly revolutionary. Like a contact lens for the eye, our technology is designed for those with chronic middle ear disease, affecting up to 330 million people worldwide.

Reference: Valente F, Hepburn MS, Chend J, Aldanae AA, Allardyce BJ, Shafeid S, Doyle BJ, Kennedy BF, Dilley RJ. Bioprinting silk fibroin using two-photon lithography enables control over the physico-1 chemical material properties and cellular response. Bioprinting. 25:e00183; 2022. 10.1016/j.bprint.2021.e00183

ClearDrum - an artificial ear drum

Ear Science Institute Australia is set to revolutionise how people with ongoing perforated eardrum issues and chronic middle ear disease are treated, after developing a tiny and transparent new implant, no larger than a thumbnail.