Hearing aids have existed, in one form or another, for hundreds of years. Wearable, electrical hearing aids have been around for about 75 years. More recentlyover the past 50 yearscochlear implants have been used to create or restore hearing for some of the estimated 30 million people in modern societies affected by permanent hearing loss and deafness (including many age 65 and older).
The older technologies produce similar outcomes: Amplifying and filtering sound to enhance hearing. Are there better ways to improve hearing?
Researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology aim to surpass the inherent limitations of hearing aids and cochlear implants through the development of a micropump for administering drugs and gene-based therapy treatments. The goal: improved treatment and curing of auditory dysfunction.
The project is supported by a $922,048 award from the National Institutes of HealthNational Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
"Pioneering studies in the areas of auditory gene therapy and chemotherapy have produced exciting results showing potential for protection and regeneration of sensory systems in the inner ear," explains David Borkholder, the project's principal investigator and an assistant professor of electrical engineering in RIT's Kate Gleason College of Engineering. More elaborate treatments are needed to achieve full restoration of hearing in animal models and for translational results in human clinical trials."
Borkholder is collaborating with the University of Rochester Medical Center to develop an implantable, refillable, variable-flow micropump platform for intracochlear drug delivery for deafness therapy research. Initially, a device will be designed for and tested using mice.
"This micropump will enable chronic, calibrated delivery of multiple therapeutic agents that is not possible with existing pump technologies" explains Borkholder, an expert in biomedica
Contact: Michael Saffran
Rochester Institute of Technology