GUWAHATI, July 8 - Hearing impairment has become a global health issue. A host of issues including rising sound pollution levels, listing to music at high decibels and of course the use of the ubiquitous headphones without taking precautions on the sound levels have contributed in the spurt of hearing impairment cases.
Perforation of eardrums is another major cause leading to hearing loss. According to a study, around 330 million persons worldwide suffer from chronic middle ear disease which may cause eardrum perforation leading to hearing loss.
Scientists and researchers are trying their best to repair perforated eardrums. A lot of experiments and clinical trials are being conducted. In this connection, it is heartening to note that a scientist from Guwahati � Dr Rangam Rajkhowa who is now based at Deakin University in Australia along with another scientist Dr Ben Allardyce, has been working on an innovative concept to help those who have hearing loss due to eardrum perforation.
The duo has developed silk-based membrane materials for an artificial human eardrum. The silk membranes have a number of favourable properties. They are thin and able to vibrate like natural eardrum. They are biocompatible, strong enough to resist inner ear pressure and biodegrade when the eardrum is regenerated and easy to shape and manipulate during surgery.
Both the scientists are associated with the Deakin�s Institute for Frontier Materials and have developed the silk eardrums with the support from Australian Research Council Linkage Project, Future Fibres Hub and the Ear Science Institute of Australia (ESIA).
The research team at Deakinand ESIA has received a grant of nearly four million Australian dollars from the UK Welcome Trust to carry on with their work. The team is now all set to finalise the development and specifications of silk membrane implants and supervise manufacture of devices to be used for human clinical trials.