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Bionic Parts

Bionic Parts

Dec 19th 2016 @ Cube

Athens, Greece
I Was There
Monday, December 19th, 2016
4:00 AM
Athens, Greece
Abstract: Auditory neurons, the target cells of the cochlear implant, undergo progressive degeneration following deafness, ultimately leading to cell death. The delivery of drugs to the cochlea, such as neurotrophins, has been shown to protect auditory neurons and promote regrowth of their peripheral fibres. However, an effective strategy to safely deliver therapeutics is yet to be established thus limiting the clinical potential of this approach.

This talk will describe experiments that have examined the use of two different clinically applicable approaches (gene therapy and nanotechnology) that aim to deliver drugs to the cochlea for long-term auditory neuron protection and hair cell regeneration. In these experiments we have used adult guinea pigs deafened by aminoglycoside drugs. Animals received treatment with gene therapy with an inoculation of an adenoviral vector containing genes for neurotrophins or an inoculation with a control vector. In another set of experiments, animals were implanted with nanoengineered particles. One ear received particles loaded with neurotrophins and the other ear received control particles. Both approaches resulted in significant auditory nerve survival.

The preservation and regrowth of auditory neurons may lead to improvements in clinical outcomes for cochlear implant recipients. In addition to neural protection and regrowth, the safe and effective delivery of therapeutic drugs to the inner ear may also enable the preservation or restoration of residual sensory function that is known to deteriorate following cochlear implantation. The use of gene therapy may enable to regeneration of lost sensory hair cells. The application of drugs to protect and maybe even restore both neural and sensory elements is likely to be a key factor in improved clinical outcomes for cochlear implant recipients in the future.

Bio: Dr Wise graduated from Monash University (PhD) in 2002 where he studied neurophysiology of the sensorimotor system. He was a postdoctoral research Fellow at the Bionic Ear Institute (2001-2003). He moved to Bristol UK where he took up postdoctoral position (2003-2006) before returning to Melbourne in 2006 to continue research at the Bionics Institute. His current research interests include strategies to delivery neuroprotective drugs to the inner ear, examinations of auditory function in response to electrical stimulation (e.g. from a cochlear implant), and strategies to suppress tinnitus.