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Ear Hear. 2010 Apr;31(2):156-65. doi: 10.1097/AUD.0b013e3181c351f2.

Drug delivery for treatment of inner ear disease: current state of knowledge.

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  • 1Department of Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Delivery of medications to the inner ear has been an area of considerable growth in both the research and clinical realms during the past several decades. Systemic delivery of medication destined for treatment of the inner ear is the foundation on which newer delivery techniques have been developed. Because of systemic side effects, investigators and clinicians have begun developing and using techniques to deliver therapeutic agents locally. Alongside the now commonplace use of intratympanic gentamicin for Meniere's disease and the emerging use of intratympanic steroids for sudden sensorineural hearing loss, novel technologies, such as hydrogels and nanoparticles, are being explored. At the horizon of inner ear drug-delivery techniques, intracochlear devices that leverage recent advances in microsystems technology are being developed to apply medications directly into the inner ear. Potential uses for such devices include neurotrophic factor and steroid delivery with cochlear implantation, RNA interference technologies, and stem-cell therapy. The historical, current, and future delivery techniques and uses of drug delivery for treatment of inner ear disease serve as the basis for this review.

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