A thin transparent membrane produced from silk fibres could provide a novel but simple solution to chronic eardrum perforation – a problem that affects millions of people.

Chief Hub Investigator Dr Rangam Rajkhowa and Fibre Hub Research Fellow Dr Ben Allardyce are working on a project with hub partner, Ear Science Institute Australia (ESIA) using fine silk membranes to replace damaged eardrums. 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.

Drs Rajkhowa and Allardyce have also been trying to develop silk-based biomaterials to repair damaged tissue in the middle ear as a result of chronic middle ear disease.