Novel Method for the Active Delivery of Drugs Across the Intact Round Window Membrane to the Inner Ear of Mammals

Tech ID: 29450 / UC Case 2017-314-0


There are many diseases of the inner ear that may be preventable or treatable pharmaceutically or by gene therapy. These include sensorineural hearing loss, “hidden hearing loss” due to neural damage, Meniere’s disease, dizziness, and tinnitus. There are difficulties that could be improved or resolved by local therapies. The bony capsule of the inner ear and the round window membrane that separates the middle ear form the inner hear hamper noninvasive delivery of medications or gene therapy vectors. The round window membrane is passively permeable to some drugs, depending upon size and charge.  However, large molecules and particles cross much less readily. Opening up the cochlea is required for delivery of such potential therapies. Thus, what is needed is an alternative method for delivery of drug across the intact round window membrane.

Technology Description

Researchers at UC San Diego have discovered a method of delivering peptides, nanoparticles or a therapeutic moiety to the inner ear of a mammal. Peptides have been identified which assist in the active transport of items of larger size and complexity to cross the inner ear membrane than items that would pass through passively


Antibiotics and/or anti-inflammatory agents could use this system to deliver a therapeutic payload into the inner ear. Since the method can actively deliver up to micron-sized particles, gene therapy vectors to stimulate hair cell regeneration or treat genetic hearing disorders can also be actively transported.


The ability to deliver drugs, gene therapy vectors or particles into the inner ear allow for the delivery of higher drug levels to targeted tissue while avoiding systemic effects. Does not require breaching of the cochlear capsule for delivery.

State Of Development

The delivery and transport of peptides from the middle ear into the inner ear was demonstrated in a rat in vivo model.

Intellectual Property Info

This technology is patent pending and available for licensing and/or research sponsorship.

Patent Status

Patent Pending


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Other Information


active transport, peptides, inner ear, round window membrane, drug delivery, gene therapy delivery

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