A Draper research project that could pave the way to restoring hearing for those who suffer from the most common forms of deafness is featured in the most recent issue of the British Academy of Audiology magazine.
Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, Draper’s principal investigator for the effort, and his research team are collaborating with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary to develop an implantable drug delivery device that could treat sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL), the most common form of hearing loss. SNHL affects more than 250 million people worldwide, and is most commonly caused by aging. Other causes loud noise, hereditary factors and ototoxic drugs.
Draper’s device addresses one of the most significant challenges to restoring hearing – the blood-cochlear barrier – by delivering precise quantities of one or more drugs in a timed sequence to the inner ear in order to regrow sensory cells.
Mass Eye and Ear has successfully demonstrated the drug delivery system with test compounds in guinea pigs, and the next steps include demonstrations with hearing regeneration drugs and development of a version for human therapy. Draper envisions that the device will be ready for clinical evaluation within five years.