Drug Delivery and Translational Research

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 436–449 | Cite as

Innovative pharmaceutical approaches for the management of inner ear disorders

  • Umberto M. MusazziEmail author
  • Silvia Franzé
  • Francesco Cilurzo
Review Article


The sense of hearing is essential for permitting human beings to interact with the environment, and its dysfunctions can strongly impact on the quality of life. In this context, the cochlea plays a fundamental role in the transformation of the airborne sound waves into electrical signals, which can be processed by the brain. However, several diseases and external stimuli (e.g., noise, drugs) can damage the sensorineural structures of cochlea, inducing progressive hearing dysfunctions until deafness. In clinical practice, the current pharmacological approaches to treat cochlear diseases are based on the almost exclusive use of systemic steroids. In the last decades, the efficacy of novel therapeutic molecules has been proven, taking advantage from a better comprehension of the pathological mechanisms underlying many cochlear diseases. In addition, the feasibility of intratympanic administration of drugs also permitted to overcome the pharmacokinetic limitations of the systemic drug administration, opening new frontiers in drug delivery to cochlea. Several innovative drug delivery systems, such as in situ gelling systems or nanocarriers, were designed, and their efficacy has been proven in vitro and in vivo in cochlear models. The current review aims to describe the art of state in the cochlear drug delivery, highlighting lights and shadows and discussing the most critical aspects still pending in the field.


Hearing Inner ear Cochlear dysfunctions Nanomedicine In situ gelling system Intratympanic 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Controlled Release Society 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmaceutical SciencesUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly

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