Hear that? Startup company develops remedy for earwax

By Jan Jarvis

Elyse Dickerson and Joe Griffin

 

Cerumen, otherwise known as earwax, can cause stuffiness, pain and hearing loss. Too much earwax sends some 12 million Americans to the doctor’s office each year.

But quick relief might not be too far away.

After testing more than 100 formulations, Elyse Dickerson and Joe Griffin, believe they have found a solution that works. Their formula, which was developed at the UNT Health Science Center’s Discovery Center Lab, delivers immediate results.

“It disintegrates ear wax in just a few minutes,” said Griffin, a toxicologist and co­owner of Eosera. “We believe it’s a safe and effective way to get rid of it.”

After leaving their jobs in ophthalmology, Griffin and Dickerson co­founded Eosera and turned to TECH Fort Worth and UNTHSC last spring for help developing a health care product that addressed an unmet need. It soon became clear that ear wax was a problem, especially among children and the elderly.

“Almost every doctor who  we talked to said that what they really needed was something to take care of ear wax,” Dickerson said.

For months Dickerson and Griffin dropped balls of artificial and harvested human ear wax into different formulas until they found one that was aggressive enough to get the job done without damaging delicate tissue.

The formula is nothing short of a game changer.

Unlike over­the­counter drops that soften ear wax, which then is flushed out with water, the formula developed by Eosera breaks it down quickly.

“You don’t have to use it for a week and then try to rinse the wax out,” Dickerson said. “This breaks it down in just a few minutes.”

Most of the time, ear wax should not be removed.

“It’s normal and necessary,” Dickerson said. “It keeps the ears clean and moist.”

But an overproduction of wax can cause hearing loss, tinnitus and itching. People often resort to cotton swabs and other tools to remove the wax, which often makes things worse.

The formula developed by Eosera was shown to be safe in the lab. This year the plan is to test it on humans as part of a clinical trial. Once it is approved, the team hopes to market it as an over­the­counter treatment.

UNTHSC, working with TECH Fort Worth, a nonprofit technology incubator, was able to provide Eosera with the tools needed to get their product research and development off the ground, said Lawrence E. (Joe) Allred, PhD, Associate Vice President for Research & Innovation.

“They are a good example of a small startup company that is seeking ways to interact with our scientists and institution and help stimulate the culture of entrepreneurism at UNTHSC,” he said.

Dickerson and Griffin said they are grateful for the help they received.

“Just to have access to laboratory equipment, the library and scientists is absolutely incredible,” Dickerson said. “We’ve been able to reduce our costs and increase our chances of success.”

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