ARC-funded researchers at Deakin University and the Ear Science Institute of Australia (ESIA) have developed an innovative silk membrane implant that could make a difference to thousands of patients around the world—repairing the painful effects of perforated human eardrums.

Up to 330 million people suffer chronic eardrum perforation worldwide, with the problem particularly severe among Australian Indigenous children. The new silk-based membranes are able to vibrate like the natural eardrum, with the added advantages of being biocompatible and strong enough to resist inner ear pressure.

The research team is led by Professor Xungai Wang, one of Australia’s foremost experts in the area of fibre science, and Director of the ARC Research Hub for Future Fibres.

Professor Wang has also received a number of ARC Linkage Projects scheme grants, which has supported his team to develop major advancements in materials science and engineering research.

In an indication of the significant potential of this product, The Wellcome Trust, based in the United Kingdom, recently awarded ESIA and the Deakin team $3.7 million to advance the development of ClearDrum to market.

Image: Researchers from Deakin’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM), Dr Rangam Rajkhowa and Dr Ben Allardyce.
Image credit: Deakin University.