Cochlear’s totally implantable hearing device moves to next step

Bionic ear implant developer, Cochlear, today announced the next phase in its long-term research and development program towards a totally implantable cochlear implant – which includes an implanted microphone, an implanted rechargeable battery, and an implanted sound processor.

As part of the next phase of research and development, the company has initiated a clinical feasibility study to evaluate its totally implantable cochlear implant technology, which will collect data from a  single-site 11 patient study on the performance and safety of the device.

The totally implantable cochlear implant is different from the existing Cochlear devices available today in that it can be used with and without an externally-worn sound processor to provide people with 24-hour hearing.

The company does not expect the product to be commercially available for years; however, it remains a long-term development goal for Cochlear.

Read: Cochlear expands manufacturing base in Brisbane

The study is being conducted in Australia and will be led by Principal Investigators Associate Professor Robert Briggs, The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and Professor Robert Cowan, The HEARing CRC.

The clinical feasibility study is expected to build on the initial clinical research conducted in 2005 with the first-generation investigational device, and will inform further technology development.

“A long-term goal of research in this area is to provide totally implantable cochlear implant technology that will enable people to hear with and without any externally worn components, helping them to have useful hearing 24 hours a day,” Briggs said.

To date, Cochlear has been the only company that has reported studies of totally implantable cochlear implant technology.2Following an acquisition of implantable microphone technology in 2012, Cochlear has been able to further develop the investigational technology.

“Cochlear leads the industry in investing in research and development to innovate and transform the lives of those living with hearing loss. We have a history of collaborating with researchers, surgeons and audiologists to innovate and bring to market new hearing solutions,” said Jan Janssen, Chief Technology Officer at Cochlear. “Totally implantable cochlear implant technology is an exciting area of product development for Cochlear. However, we remain in the very early stages, and given the remaining technical, clinical and regulatory requirements, the technology is not expected to be commercially available for years.”

Cochlear is a global leader in implantable hearing solutions. The company has a global workforce of more than 3,500 people and invests more than $160 million a year on research and development.

Currently available Cochlear products, such as the world’s first made for iPhone cochlear implant sound processor – the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor – and the off-the-ear Nucleus Kanso Sound Processor are helping people worldwide with disabling hearing loss.