Discovery and translational science to restore hearing
Our lab has an evolving track record of taking problems in hearing loss and turning them into potential new treatments. We led the field in a new understanding of how the ear drum heals which led to a discovery for ear drum regeneration. Now that treatment is being trialed in patients and we hope that soon it will be available to everyone around the world. We are investigating, developing and trialing new medical devices and therapeutics aimed at restoring hearing to patients.
One disease we are tackling is Chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM). CSOM is a chronically discharging hole in the ear drum and produces hearing loss in more than 50% of cases and is associated with poor language and development. According to the World Health Organization, up to 330 million individuals suffer from CSOM associated hearing loss worldwide. It accounts for 28 000 deaths yearly, a disease burden of over 2 million disability adjusted life years and it is the most common cause of persistent hearing impairment among children in developing countries.
The problem occurs in up to 40% of indigenous populations. If we can solve this problem we can restore hearing to hundreds of millions around the world. We already developed a therapy to regenerate the tympanic membrane which will be in clinical trials soon. We have identified several novel mechanisms in pathogenesis and are identifying how people lose sensory hearing with infection. We are also developing our own novel therapeutics to clear ear infections.
Other diseases we are fighting including oral wound healing problems that occur after tonsillectomy. Tonsillectomy remains one of the most common surgeries performed around the world. We discovered a novel mechanism that leads to reducing pain and bleeding after surgery and are translating a new therapy to prevent complications. Oral mucositis occurs in over eighty percent of patients having chemoradiotherapy for head and neck malignancy, often leading to aborting curative therapy that could treat a patient’s cancer. We are translating a novel therapeutic that can prevent this from occurring so that patient’s can have reduced pain and suffering during cancer treatment.
Having made novel discoveries in how wound healing occurs in ear, we’re investigating how we can repurpose our discoveries to other tricky problem areas including preventing bleeding after tonsillectomy, oral mucositis after chemoradiotherapy for head and neck malignancy, and oral aphthous ulcers.
A Regenerative Method of Tympanic Membrane Repair Could Be the Greatest Advance in Otology Since the Cochlear Implant.
Robert K. Jackler, MD
2012 Editor of Otology & Neurotology
The NIDCD has awarded the Santa Maria Lab a 5 year R01 grant to explore why patients with chronic suppurative otitis media lose sensory hearing. This work grew out of their novel animal model where they discussed likely immunological mechanisms associated with hearing loss. Through the grant the lab hopes to understand the link between the infection in the ear and permanent hearing loss in the hopes of discovering a therapeutic target for preventing of treating chronic infectious related hearing loss.