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Lauren Bakaletz, PhD

Award Name Pilot Grant

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Treating Middle Ear Infections through Non-Invasive Methods

Lauren Bakaletz, PhD, received a pilot grant from the CCTS for her research involving non-invasive treatment of middle ear infections in children.

Bakaletz and her team are investigating the effectiveness of a non-invasive immunization for otitis media (OM), or middle ear infection, by simply applying a band-aid to the skin behind the ear. 

This needle-free approach harnesses the immune power of the skin to induce the formation of antibodies that can protect against the development of an ear infection, or even effectively treat an existing infection. 

Bakaletz hopes to develop this approach further and extend immunization beyond the borders of the developed world. The World Health Organization estimates there is between 65 and 330 million children suffering from chronic middle ear infections. 

“Non-invasive immunization is much less expensive than standard, non-oral immunizations. It does not require sterile needles or trained medical professionals, which is ideal for use in developing countries,” Bakaletz said. 

By attempting to understand bacterial communities that are believed to be responsible for chronic ear infections, immunization can target and effectively prevent and/or resolve OM caused by this particular family of bacteria

“We consider ourselves to be very fortunate that our work might really make a difference someday,” Bakaletz said. 

For this project, Bakaletz collaborated extensively with the laboratory of John Clements, PhD, Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Tulane University. 

“Dr. Clements has played an instrumental role in guiding our lab in how to utilize immunizations that are absorbed through the skin for preventing and/or treating middle ear infections,” Bakaletz said. 

By Jessica Reynolds, Thursday, April 25, 2013
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