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Hundreds of millions suffer from hearing loss caused by wound healing and infectious disease problems in Otolaryngology around the world. The Santa Maria lab lies at the intersection of science, medicine and engineering providing a multidisciplinary approach that applies new ways of thinking about large scale disease to discover and translate new therapies.

One disease we are tackling is Chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM). CSOM is a chronically discharging hole in the ear drum and produces hearing loss in more than 50% of cases and is associated with poor language and development. According to the World Health Organization, up to 330 million individuals suffer from CSOM associated hearing loss worldwide. It accounts for 28 000 deaths yearly, a disease burden of over 2 million disability adjusted life years and it is the most common cause of persistent hearing impairment among children in developing countries.

The problem occurs in up to 40% of indigenous populations. If we can solve this problem we can restore hearing to hundreds of millions around the world. We already developed a therapy to regenerate the tympanic membrane which will be in clinical trials soon. We have identified several novel mechanisms in pathogenesis and are identifying how people lose sensory hearing with infection. We are also developing our own novel therapeutics to clear ear infections.

Other diseases we are fighting including oral wound healing problems that occur after tonsillectomy. Tonsillectomy remains one of the most common surgeries performed around the world. We discovered a novel mechanism that leads to reducing pain and bleeding after surgery and are translating a new therapy to prevent complications. Oral mucositis occurs in over eighty percent of patients having chemoradiotherapy for head and neck malignancy, often leading to aborting curative therapy that could treat a patient’s cancer. We are translating a novel therapeutic that can prevent this from occurring so that patient’s can have reduced pain and suffering during cancer treatment.

A Regenerative Method of Tympanic Membrane Repair Could Be the Greatest Advance in Otology Since the Cochlear Implant.”

Robert K. Jackler, MD, 2012 Editor of Otology & Neurotology

Our Research

Photograph of Dr Massa looking into a mic
Hair cells picture

Sensory Hearing Loss in Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media

Chronic Overlay Picture

Drug Discovery for Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media

Tympanic Overlay Drawing

Tympanic membrane wound healing

Oral Wound Overlay drawing

Drug discovery in Oral Cavity Regeneration

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