First operation of implanting prosthesis developed by AGH UST scientists

photo by M. Bernaś, KSAF AGH

On 6th April, 2017, the prosthesis of the middle ear “otoimplant”, developed by the scientists of the AGH University of Science and Technology, was for the first time implanted into a patient’s body. The pilot operation took place at the Department of Otolaryngology of the University Hospital in Krakow. 

The project “otoimplant” has been carried out since March 2016 by a scientific research team under the supervision of Magdalena Ziąbka, DSc, of the Faculty of Materials Science and Ceramics, within the framework of the programme Lider, funded by the National Centre for Research and Development. “Otoimplant”, an invention developed for the needs of laryngology, is a prosthesis of the middle ear made of a polymer containing a bactericidal additive of silver nanoparticles. The innovative implant enables the reconstruction of auditory ossicles in the space of the middle ear and effectively eliminates bacterial infections. In the first place, its innovativeness consists in the lightness of the design and its bactericidal effect, which the commonly-used titanic implants do not have. The prosthesis is meant to shorten patients’ recovery period and limit the risks connected with the complications and bacterial infections. Thanks to the use of this type of implants it will be possible to improve the hearing capabilities of patients with a damaged chain of auditory ossicles being a result of an inflammatory condition, injuries, or congenital disorders. 

The hitherto conducted research of the prosthesis encompassed, inter alia, the evaluation of biological parameters, biocompatibility, bactericidal effects, and physical and chemical properties. On the basis of the obtained results, the researchers singled out the implants of the best parameters and the highest bactericidal efficiency. By this means, the scientists could begin the most important stage of the project – clinical research and tests with the participation of patients. Six patients with hearing disorders were selected for the pilot treatment. The first operation of implanting the prosthesis was performed under the supervision of Agnieszka Wiatr, MD, PhD. 

“The infection of the middle ear is one of the most frequent disorders in laryngology. A great number of bacteria responsible for this type of dysfunction and increasing resistance to commonly-used antibiotics make us search for the new methods of overcoming chronic otitis media. One of these methods is looking for new materials that would not only be good conductors of sound, but they would also eliminate inflammatory conditions. Thanks to inventions like this one, we can offer patients not only the treatment and elimination of bacterial infections, but first of all, the improvement of auditory perception,” says Agnieszka Wiatr, MD, PhD. 

“The developed solution is innovative and it really does create a good opportunity for people suffering from hearing disorders. The authors of the project are full of enthusiasm and we all hope that the project will be a great success. An additional asset of the project is the fact that it is carried out by an interdisciplinary team consisting of both material experts, as well as medical doctors,” says professor Jerzy Lis, AGH UST Vice-Rector for Cooperation. 

Magdalena Ziąbka, DSc, of the AGH UST Faculty of Materials Science and Ceramics, head of the project, adds: 

“The developed implant is another, significant step on the path to creating the perfect prosthesis. We wanted to offer a solution that would be an alternative to the currently-used prostheses, and we were relentless and determined in pursuing our goal. The performed operation was the climax of our hard work, although the greatest reward for us will be the patients’ satisfaction from regaining auditory perception.” 

The members of the research team are: Michał Dziadek, MSc, of the Faculty of Materials Science and Ceramics, Wojciech Soldaty, MA, of the AGH UST Centre for Transfer of Technologies, Izabela Pabisz-Zarębska, MA, and Grzegorz Jaworski, MA, of the Medical College of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, as well as Agnieszka Wróbel, MD, PhD, of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University Hospital in Krakow. The project has also established a special consultation and research team, whose members are: dr Elżbieta Menaszek of the Faculty of Pharmacy at the Medical College of the Jagiellonian University, Agnieszka Wiatr, MD, PhD, of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University Hospital in Krakow, professor Jacek Składzień, MD, and professor Maciej Wiatr, MD, of the Department of Otolaryngology at the Medical College of the Jagiellonian University. Additionally, a group of experts in different fields of science take part in the project: Maria Żołnierek, MA, of the Faculty of Pharmacy at the Medical College of the Jagiellonian University, as well as professor Aleksandra Królicka and Rafał Banasiuk, MSc, who represent the University of Gdańsk and the Medical University of Gdańsk. 

More detailed information about the project can be found here