Microimaging of a novel intracochlear drug delivery device in combination with cochlear implants in the human inner ear
The effective delivery of drugs to the inner ear is still an unmet medical need. Local controlled drug delivery to this sensory organ is challenging due to its location in the petrous bone, small volume, tight barriers, and high vulnerability. Local intracochlear delivery of drugs would overcome the limitations of intratympanic (extracochlear) and systemic drug application. The requirements for such a delivery system include small size, appropriate flexibility, and biodegradability. We have developed biodegradable PLGA-based implants for controlled intracochlear drug release that can also be used in combination with cochlear implants (CIs), which are implantable neurosensory prosthesis for hearing rehabilitation. The drug carrier system was tested for implantation in the human inner ear in 11 human temporal bones. In five of the temporal bones, CI arrays from different manufacturers were implanted before insertion of the biodegradable PLGA implants. The drug carrier system and CI arrays were implanted into the scala tympani through the round window. Implanted temporal bones were evaluated by ultra-high-resolution computed tomography (µ-CT) to illustrate the position of implanted electrode carriers and the drug carrier system. The µ-CT measurements revealed the feasibility of implanting the PLGA implants into the scala tympani of the human inner ear and co-administration of the biodegradable PLGA implant with a CI array.