Project Image:
Title of the project:
Peptide nanomatrix as carrier for siRNA for the treatment of diseases of the central and sensory nervous system
Biological fuhktionalization of peptide gels
Project leader:
Prof. Dr. Burkhard Schlosshauer
Project funding:
  • Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)
Project management:
  • VDI Technologiezentrum GmbH
Funding reference number:

Cochlear implants are used to treat deafness. They are to be optimized by coating them with resorbable peptide polymer gels. These gels are to a) represent a biofunctionalizable growth matrix for cells and b) serve as a drug depot in order to c) administer nanoparticles of highly specific synthetic nucleic acids (siRNA) locally. This will establish a cross-sectional technology for drug targeting that can be used for several medical indications.


Causes of severe hearing damage and deafness can be congenital or caused by infections, tumours or trauma, for example. If hearing damage in small children is not treated in time, language acquisition becomes impossible. In Germany there are about 100,000 deaf people and about 15,000 deaf/hearing impaired students alone. Deaf and damaged patients are increasingly being implanted with a cochlear implant as a thin electrode tube in the cochlea (approx. 80,000 worldwide). It is not technically possible to solve communication problems caused by interference noise, but biomedical supplements are needed, for which this project aims to implement an approach.
A therapeutic application system is to be developed that serves a specific medical need and can be administered locally - minimally invasive or implant-supported - to the target organ. The system consists of biomimetic resorbable peptide polymer gels "NanoPep", which a) represent a biofunctionalizable growth matrix for cells as a medical device and b) serve as a drug depot in order to c) administer nanoparticles of highly specific synthetic nucleic acids (siRNA) locally. The established cross-sectional technology of "drug targeting" by means of "NanoPep" can be used for several medical indications such as the biofunctionalization of cochlear implants in combination with drug-on-device or drug-in-device technologies. There is a broad market potential for the exploitation of these products.
For a possible clinical application of RNAi technology (Nobel Prize 2006) in the cochlea, we will concentrate in particular on the production of siRNA nanoparticles. This includes new cell-specific products in combination with a peptide gel. The introduction of these nanotherapeutics into the peptide gel will allow a new, innovative drug release at the target site. The nano-biofunctionalized gels will be tested in preclinical models in the inner ear of guinea pigs. Nanotherapeutics technology is a cross-sectional technology that could easily be applied in many other medical indication areas. The combined, far-reaching competences of the European countries will enable us to achieve the goals of this interdisciplinary regenerative therapy concept.

Project partners:
  • EMC GmbH, Tübingen
  • MED-EL GmbH
  • Universitätsklinikum Tübingen HNO Klinik