Professor Barbara Canlon
PhD in Hearing Physiology
Research fields: Neuroscience
Research Interests and Accomplishments
Damage to hair cells of our inner ears is a leading cause of deafness and other hearing impairments. Professor Barbara Canlon has spent her career exploring the fundamental workings of the hair cells of the inner ear with the goal of understanding why they are so vulnerable to damage, and ultimately, how they may be protected, repaired, or even replaced.
Pharmacotherapy for inner ear disorders is hampered by the difficulties in local application. Together with researchers at the Swedish Medical Nanoscience Center and Linköping University, a novel technology using organic bio-electronics has been developed to create an interface between electronics and the inner ear. Organic conducting polymers were used as programmable delivery electrodes, in which an electronic in-put signal translates into release of bio-signals (ions, neurotransmitters). Using the peripheral auditory system, we show that the device can selectively stimulate nerve cells responding to glutamate. This technology has great potential as a therapeutic platform, where malfunctioning signal transduction pathways can be modulated by programmable, dose-controlled delivery of signal substances from an implanted bio-electronic device. This new method of communication between electronics and the inner ear will help accelerate the development of therapeutic strategies for hearing disorders. These studies are published in Nature Materials (Simon et al., 2009).
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