Untreated hearing loss has far reaching consequences, and is not restricted to the inability to communicate with loved ones. Alarmingly, hearing loss is associated with social isolation, depression, loneliness, and cognitive decline. These factors, in turn, increase the risk of developing dementia, and research suggests that people with even mild symptoms of hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia as those with healthy hearing. Those with severe hearing loss may be up to five times more likely to develop dementia.

Our team of researchers, led by A/Prof Andrew Wise in collaboration with chemical engineers at the University of Melbourne and ENT Specialist Dr Sherryl Wagstaff from Epworth Healthcare, are developing a novel technology that we believe will be a game changer in the use of drug therapies to treat inner ear damage. The technology is based on a unique method of delivery that ‘loads’ the drug into tiny particles (nanoparticles) created through nano-engineering. This medical breakthrough will enable the delivery of drugs to the hard-to-reach inner ear, at levels that are safe and effective.

Further information

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Research team

Program leader: A/Prof Andrew Wise

Team members: A/Prof James Fallon, A/Prof Rachael Richardson, Dr Niliksha Gunewardene, Dr Alex Thompson 

Student: Mr Yutian Ma

Collaborators: Prof Frank Caruso (University of Melbourne) Dr Sherryl Wagstaff (Epworth Hospital), Prof Robert Shepherd (University of Melbourne), Prof Stephen O’Leary (University of Melbourne)