The root cause of hearing disorders and deafness can be hereditary or acquired through ototoxic medication, sound exposure or aging. Acquisition of language in children is severely hampered when hearing disorders aren't treated in time. In Germany alone, there are 100.000 deaf and approximately 15.000 deaf pupils. With increasing rate, deaf and severely hearing impaired patients do receive a cochlear implant, a small electrode implanted into the cochlea (worldwide approx. 200.000).
The frequently occurring problems of distorting noise and the lack of acuity can most probably not be solved through technical improvements of the devices and are in need of biomedical supplements.
In the context of this research grant the application system "Otopep" is tested for bio functionality of cochlea implants, that suites the medical need for the treatment of hearing disorders. The implantmatrix contains neurotrophic factors that are supposed to elicit neurite outgrowth towards the electrodes of the cochlear implant, allowing a better contact between the auditory nerve and the implant. This should contribute to an improved spatial allocation of the spiral ganglions to the contacts of the electrode enabling a better understanding of speech and music perception in daily life.