Bionics Institute researchers are a step closer to a new drug treatment for hearing loss using nanotechnology.
It is well-established that delivering growth factors into the inner ear has the potential to repair damage to the sensory nerves to treat hearing impairment. However, the lack of safe and effective technology to deliver these factors into the inner ear has limited its clinical translation.
In a new study, published in the prestigious Journal of Controlled Release, Principal Investigator A/Prof Andrew Wise, Senior Research Fellow Dr Niliksha Gunewardene and colleagues tested a new nanoparticle delivery system with great results.
They found that the particle delivery system could increase the lifespan and improve distribution of the growth factors delivered to the inner ear.
This lays the groundwork for further research to establish the ideal formulation of nanoparticles and move towards a clinical trial to restore hearing.
Dr Gunewardene says: “We are very excited about potentially having a medication to help treat hearing loss, which will be the first of its kind.
“Currently people with hearing loss require a cochlear implant or hearing aids, so it would make a huge difference,” she concluded.
Hearing loss is a very common disability affecting nearly half a billion people worldwide and there are currently no drug treatments for people with hearing loss.
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Image: The spread of drug in the cochlea (hearing organ) after delivery using nanoparticles.
Credit: Patrick Lam/Bionics Institute