Shlomo Silman, PhD, and Daniel S. Arick, MD, of Arisil Inc are among this year’s winners of the prestigious Tibbetts Award hosted by the Small Business Technology Council with support from federal and private organizations, including NIH, DOD, and NASA. The award is given “in recognition of significant achievements involving technological innovation related to the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR).” Individuals and companies selected for these awards are recognized as having provided outstanding SBIR leadership in the state, region, or nation. The awards were presented in Washington, DC, on September 26.

Arisil Inc was founded to develop the technology called the EarPopper for the non-surgical and non-drug treatment of hearing loss caused by otitis media with effusion (OME) and Eustachian tube dysfunction. Arisil received funding through NIDCD’s SBIR program for the development and testing of the EarPopper through feasibility and clinical trials in children and adults. The EarPopper is patented and has FDA approval as a medical device available by prescription.

This device is a new take on an old theme known as the Polizer maneuver in which a doctor injects air up one nostril of a patient while the second nostril is pinched closed and the patient swallows. During the swallow, the air is diverted into the Eustachian tube, which ventilates the middle ear. The EarPopper differs from the Politzer design because it provides controlled airflow and pressure in a hand-held, battery-operated device that can be used at home.

In a 4-year study that included approximately 100 children, 85% of the children who used the device over the course of 3 months had restored hearing. The study suggests that, in certain cases, the EarPopper may eliminate the need for antibiotics or the placement of surgical tubes as treatments of OME.

[SOURCE: NIDCD, September 2006]