Millions of people around the world are losing their hearing thanks to inner ear disorders and the pharmaceutical industry has spent years working to develop therapeutics to help address this patient population.
But Jeff Borenstein, lead scientist for drug delivery at Draper, discovered by talking to experts in the hearing loss field that many of the products in the industry’s pipeline fail because they rely on systemic administration. Scientists have struggled to get at the inner ear and locally deliver a targeted dose of a therapeutic.
“The folks from the hearing loss field were saying that there is progress in drug development in the pipeline – although nothing was clinically available at the time – but the problem was, how do you deliver those drugs? And the reason it’s so difficult is that the inner ear is among, if not the most, difficult place in the body to deliver drugs,” Borenstein told Drug Delivery Business News.
To tackle this delivery challenge, Borenstein and his team at Draper, in collaboration with clinicians at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, spent 15 years developing an implantable and programmable intracochlear drug delivery device. Now, that device is ready to move into testing – and the team has come up with a unique way to get this technology to industry players.