Neurotrophic Cochlear Implant for Severe Hearing Loss
Project Number: 304930
EC contribution: € 5,843,872.00
Project website: http://www.neuear.eu/
Sixteen percent of adult Europeans suffer from hearing loss, great enough to adversely affect their daily life. Over the age of 80, 50% of the population is suffering from hearing loss. A large portion of this population is affected by sensoryneural hearing loss (SNHL), a consequence of a progressive degeneration of the primary auditory neurons (ANs), the afferent neurons of the cochlea.
These ANs are the target cells of the neurotrophic cochlear implant – a neural prosthesis that will be designed by the partners of NeuEar to provide both electric auditory cues and regenerative neurotrophic factor(s) to severe-profoundly deaf patients. The ongoing degeneration of ANs that occurs over time is a limiting factor in current cochlear implant efficacy.
The exogenous application of neurotrophic factors can prevent these degenerative changes. This project aims to develop an encapsulated cell (EC) therapy device capable of long-term intracochlear neurotrophin production in combination with a cochlear electrode implant.
The aim is also to develop a versatile encapsulated cell implant that could be used to deliver regenerative factors to the cochlea even without the electrode part in future applications. The project brings together an SME capable of making clinically and regulatory compliant EC therapy devices with an industrial partner already on the market with a successful cochlear implant.
These companies will work closely with two academic partners with expertise and resources to select, evaluate, and validate the neurotrophic cochlear implant. It is the intention of this consortium to make a clinically relevant implant with an associated preclinical package for regulatory submission over the next three years.
Another SME will implement an efficient exploitation and dissemination structure, including a patent strategy to enable partnering and fund-raising for further clinical development, regulatory approval, commercialization, and marketing.