September 17, 2007, Bedford, MA--Spire Corporation has received a two-year, $870,000 Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Heath, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders to develop a high-power fiber laser capable of performing myringotomy and middle-ear surgery without the need for anesthesia.
The grant has been funded for $438,000 for the first year and the second year of funding is subject to the availability of funds and the satisfactory progress of the project.
Myringotomy is a common procedure, typically performed in children under the age of five, whereby the tympanic membrane (eardrum) is punctured to drain fluid and reduce the risk of ear infection. Approximately one million children undergo this procedure annually in the United States.
In the first phase of the project, Spire developed a 1-W fiber laser and demonstrated the capability of forming controlled openings in animal fascia tissue, which simulates tympanic membrane characteristics. The laser being developed in Phase II is expected to emit between five and ten times the power level of the Phase I laser, thereby making it a candidate for replacing conventional scalpel surgery (which requires anesthesia) with a procedure resulting in less trauma. The efficacy of the new myringotomy instrument will be evaluated at the Children's Hospital in Boston, MA, under the direction of Dr. Dennis Poe.
"We are pleased to be able to continue development of this promising laser," said Roger Little, chairman and CEO of Spire. "We envision the device as being a revolutionary treatment for inner ear problems, and will aggressively pursue its commercialization upon successful completion of the project. Many of the advanced technologies required to make this program successful reside in our Biomedical and Bandwidth Semiconductor operations, and our existing Biomedical sales and marketing infrastructure will be invaluable to our commercialization activities."