Breakthrough Ear Science inventions to help millions

Beating to our own ClearDrum

Translational science will help developing real solutions for the patients, from the laboratory bench to the clinic.

Dr Filippo Valente’s work focuses on novel silk biomaterials to develop medical devices and vehicles to deliver drugs and therapeutics to the ear.  ClearDrum will provide the first novel 3D-shaped and acoustically optimised artificial eardrum. The specific shape allows easier surgical insertion, addressing a wide size range of eardrum perforations, while preventing common issues like retraction and adhesion.

The transparent material will enable ongoing monitoring of healing and resolution of middle ear conditions by routine otoscopy. ClearDrum was evaluated by national and international ENT surgeons during materials development and cadaveric trials.

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.
A prosthetic device designed for those with chronic middle ear disease leading to perforation.

At a purpose-built, high-tech laboratory and training facility built in 2010 at the Ear Science Institute of Australia Subiaco, unfolds a delicate surgical test and training procedure conducted by the Institute’s founder, Professor Marcus Atlas.

The operation is a pivotal turning point for the ClearDrum innovation’s R&D, testing prototypes of the Ear Science Institute Australia-designed device, performed in conjunction with colleagues from around the world via remote video link.

The precise design and fit of the ClearDrum is modified with group collaboration involving bio-mechanic technicians, researchers and medical professionals from around the world.

We have done a lot of prototyping work for the optimisation of the shape, so now we get to a point where we’ve done a tech transfer to an actual motor control manufacturer in the US, and they are developing the metric for the scale of production. We are very close to almost final prototypes which is really exciting.

The first-of-its kind in the world, ClearDrum, will revolutionise repair and healing of the ear drum for millions of people globally, suffering with Chronic Middle Ear Disease and perforations experienced through disease or traumatic injury.

ClearDrum is a synthetic ear implant combining biology from the silkworm – with science, to replicate and replace the tympanic membrane of the ear drum. Similar to a contact lens for the ear drum, the ClearDrum device sits over the existing ear drum with the purpose of organically grafting to the existing biology of the ear structure.

The delicate procedure is classified as brain surgery so the simulated surgical environment in our lab provides the suction, irrigation, oxygen and power supplies required to perform the attachment in a real-life scenario.

The temporal bone from a cadaver is used with the external and internal anatomy of the ear viewed under an electron microscope which is linked to the other stakeholders involved in the refining of the design and its efficiencies.

The ClearDrum device developed by Ear Science Institute Australia aims to provide an off-the-shelf, near-permanent implant, to resolve these difficulties in a single, straightforward surgical procedure. We partnered with Deakin University’s Future Fibers Hub for the last 10 years to develop a prototype based on silk fibroin biomaterial and started the pre-clinical phase of development.

We really need the ClearDrum to replicate the movement and function of a typical eardrum, so it can transfer the soundwaves and the surgeon can see through the ClearDrum to gauge whether there’s disease developing again. As you can imagine it’s so close to the brain so it’s a very delicate procedure, but it will be a gamechanger.

Chronic middle ear disease leading to perforation is one of the biggest causes of hearing loss in indigenous populations in Western Australia and also across the world. This ground-breaking technique changes the way the ear drum can function and enhances on-going treatment for patients worldwide.

ClearDrum: an acoustically-optimised silk implant to treat chronic middle-ear disease

A novel and effective treatment for sufferers of chronic middle ear disease which is a major cause of global disability in otological practice and is particularly prevalent in Australian indigenous populations.

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