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MISSOULA — One research lab at the University of Montana is working to make your life a little easier when it comes to ear infections.

Monica Serban is an associate professor in UM’s Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Department.

She has created a novel gel ear therapy that, if applied, would mean that people and their dogs wouldn’t have to go through the process of daily ear drops. Instead, her product would only need to be applied once.

She got the idea when she took her dog to the vet to get medicine for an ear infection. However, with two young kids and a full-time job, her and her husband realized it just wasn’t practical to try and give their dog ear drops.

“I don’t know if you have a similar story but it’s not that convenient to chase your dog around the kitchen and try to tackle him to administer ear drops,” Serban said.

That’s when she asked the vet if there was a one-time treatment they could administer in the clinic, so that she doesn’t have to do it at home.

“I was told that, unfortunately, there’s no good solution for that problem and as a scientist I was thinking ‘well, we can invent something,'” She added.

And – that’s exactly what she did.

The product looks like a gel, but when shaken or inserted through a syringe, it liquefies until it reaches the site of the infection, then gels in place.

“Especially for patients in nursing homes, that have hand or head tremors, where daily administration of ear products is a problem,” Serban said. “We are [also] thinking of military in combat areas, that could benefit from our product.”

Serban’s lab just received a $1.45 million dollar award from the National Institute of Health. This allows them to move into phase II, where they’ll look at things like shelf life and product stability.

Another plus is that it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, which makes it suitable for developing countries.

Serban and her team are hopeful that the product will be out in the market in about two years.


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