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Mid-Career Fellowship - 2022

Confocal laser scanning microscopy image showing extensive bacterial biofilm and intracellular “biofilm pods” on the middle ear mucosa of a child with chronic suppurative otitis media.

Developing improved therapeutics for treating otitis media and preventing need for repeat surgery
Dr. Ruth Thornton

Project Description

Over 368 million children under 5 years of age experience middle ear infection annually, causing hearing loss during important developmental years. For children with chronic and recurrent middle ear infections, grommet insertion is often needed, and 1/3 require repeat surgery. I have shown this recurrence of disease is due to bacteria surviving within the ears of children in a sticky glue known as biofilm.
I aim to develop and implement OM therapies to improve the lives of children and their families by preventing ongoing infections and their consequences. This fellowship will enable me to advance new therapies for the children that desperately need them. Specifically I will:
1) Complete my clinical trial using an anti-biofilm treatment during grommet insertion and 2x daily for 5 days, to reduce repeat grommet surgery;
2) Develop laboratory tests to invent slow-release anti-biofilm treatments to use at the time of surgery to prevent the need for parental administration of ear drops, and prevent further surgery and;
3) Establish a bank of ear, nose and throat samples to expedite the development of improved therapies and to enable international collaboration with global experts.

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