Antibiotic Gel in Ear May Treat Ear Infections


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A preclinical study led by Harvard Medical School researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital showed that a single-application, bioengineered gel squirted in the ear canal could deliver a full course of antibiotic therapy for middle-ear infections, making treatment much easier and potentially safer, according to a study published Sept. 14, 2016, in Science Translational Medicine.

Middle-ear infections, or otitis media, affect 95 percent of children, prompting 12 million to 16 million clinical visits per year in the U.S. alone. It’s the No. 1 reason for pediatric antibiotic prescriptions. But getting oral antibiotics into young children several times a day for 7-10 days can be a daunting task.

This drug delivery system completely eradicated otitis media from non-typable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) in 10 of 10 lab chinchillas, whereas only 62.5 percent of animals receiving 1 percent ciprofloxacin alone had cleared the infection by the seventh day. The hydrogel system was biocompatible in the ear, and ciprofloxacin was undetectable in the blood, confirming local drug delivery and activity. This fast-gelling hydrogel could improve compliance, minimize side effects and prevent systemic distribution of antibiotics in one of the most common pediatric illnesses, possibly minimizing the development of antibiotic resistance.

For more information, go to stm.sciencemag.org/content/8/356/356ra120.

Katherine Kopp is a freelance writer and editor in Chapel Hill.

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