Hub Director Professor Xungai Wang, Chief Investigator Dr Rangam Rajkhowa and Research Fellow Dr Ben Allardyce, together with industry partner the Ear Science Institute Australia (ESIA) have received a major grant from the UK Wellcome Trust.

A/Prof Rodney Dilley (ESIA), Dr Deborah Cooper, Prof Marcus Atlas (ESIA) and Prof Xungai Wang (Deakin) at the Wellcome Trust HQ in London

A/Prof Rodney Dilley (ESIA), Dr Deborah Cooper, Prof Marcus Atlas (ESIA) and Prof Xungai Wang (Deakin) at the Wellcome Trust HQ in London

The grant, worth $3.7 M over three years will take the silk based membrane materials developed at by Hub members at Deakin to the clinical trial stage for perforated eardrum repair. Chronic middle dear disease affects millions around the world, reducing hearing and causing complications which take the lives of nearly 30,000 people every year, particularly in the developing world.

Xungai and ESIA Director and Hub Partner Investigator Professor Marcus Atlas travelled to London for an interview with the Wellcome Trust last year.

The silk membrane materials have been developed with support from the ARC Research Hub for Future Fibres, and a previous ARC Linkage Project. Rangam and Ben have been closely involved in this work and they will work to finalise the development and specifications of the silk membrane implants and supervise manufacture of the devices to be used in the clinical trials, due to begin from next year.

The silk membranes have a number of favourable properties – they are thin and able to vibrate like the natural eardrum, biocompatible, strong enough to resist inner ear pressure, they biodegrade when the eardrum is regenerated, and are easy to shape and manipulate during surgery. Now, the clinical trials will demonstrate how the membranes behave in the environment of the middle ear. If all goes as planned, the devices could be on the market within a decade.

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation, which currently spends almost £3 billion on more than 3000 projects worldwide.

Click here to read ESIA’s press release which includes a video of ClearDrum.

Click here to read a news article from Deakin University which includes a video of Dr Rangam Rajkhowa on ABC news.