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S. Korean scientists develop world's first silk eardrum patch

All Headlines 06:00 December 08, 2009

SEOUL, Dec. 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korean scientists developed the world's first silk eardrum patch, whose treatment characteristics are superior to existing paper-based products, a government organization said Tuesday.

The Rural Development Administration (RDA) said the eardrum patch, made from locally raised silkworms in cooperation with Hallym University Medical Center, has been tested to have high degree of bio-compatibility, resistance to bacteria and hardness.

It said that the surface of the patch is highly transparent, very smooth and of adequate hardness and thickness to treat perforated eardrums.

The thickness of the patch is 100 micrometers, which is roughly the same as natural eardrums, while the hardness of 10 MPa makes it easy to place the material into the damaged ear. Natural silk also causes no human immune reactions that can hinder treatment.

"Laboratory tests conducted on animals showed that a new eardrum forms around the patch about two weeks after an implant operation," an RDA official said.

He said that compared to conventional paper patches, the repair rate is faster and more complete.

Other benefits of the silk patch are the low cost and ability to transmit relatively clear sound during the healing process.

The RDA and Hallym University said patent rights have been requested in the United States, Japan, Europe, China and South Korea, while the development was published in the latest issue of the Wound Repair and Regeneration journal.

They said that final clinical tests will be conducted as soon as possible to allow the finished product to reach the market.

The rural support organization under the farm ministry said the product can help local silkworm farmers find a bigger market for their product, which has been pushed aside by cheap imports from such countries as China.


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