NeuEar’s innovation A cochlear implant is a neural prosthesis designed to directly electrically stimulate the primary auditory neurons in patients suffering from severe sensorineural hearing loss. The progressive degeneration of primary auditory neurons that occurs over time in these patients is a limiting factor in current cochlear implant efficacy. The NeuEar concept is to develop an encapsulated cell (EC) therapy device capable of long-term intracochlear neurotrophin production in combination with a cochlear stimulating electrode implant to improve the clinical benefits by rescuing primary auditory neurons from degeneration and promoting the neuron-electrode interface. In addition, the project will pave the way for a stand-alone neurotrophic implant as a potential regenerative therapy to the inner ear without the use of an electrode. Societal impact of hearing loss Sixteen percent of adult Europeans suffer from hearing loss that is severe enough to adversely affect their daily life. A large portion of this population is affected by sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). Sensorineural hearing loss typically occurs following damage and loss of hair cells, the sensory cells in the cochlea of the inner ear, which, in response to sound, convert the mechanical vibrations into nerve impulses in the primary auditory neurons. NeuEar partnership NeuEar is gathering two industrial partners, NsGene A/S – a Danish SME specialized in the development of clinically and regulatory compliant EC therapy devices- and MED-EL GmbH (www.medel.com) – an Austrian company already on the market with a successful cochlear implant. These companies will work closely with two academic partners – the Swedish Karolinska Institutet (www.ki.se) and the German Medizinische Hochschule Hannover (http://www.mh-hannover.de/) with expertise and resources to select, evaluate, and validate the neurotrophic cochlear implant in small and large animal models. Finally, Dando, Weiss & Colucci Ltd (www.dwc-alliance.com) an English consultancy, will implement an efficient exploitation and dissemination structure, including a patent and communication strategy to enable partnering and fund-raising for further clinical development, regulatory approval, commercialization, and marketing.
Austria, Germany, Denmark, United Kingdom