We hope these help answer your questions. If there's anything else we're all ears.
Q. How long has the FutureHear project been running?
The FutureHear project received vital seed funding from Advance Queensland in February 2016 to employee a research assistant for one year on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership and a PhD student on a three year scholarship.
Q. What aims do we have for the project?
The FutureHear project is a two stage project. Both stages involve optimising patient scanning and 3D modelling so that we can produce a customised solution for every patient. The short term aim is to develop a method of 3D printing a more customised, life-like and affordable non-permanent prosthetic option. This will have an inner synthetic cartilage structure with a silicone outer layer and will likely be attached with surgical adhesive. The longer term project will aim to develop a biodegradable polymer scaffold with our 3D biofabricator printers that would be a more customisable and less invasive alternative to current surgical reconstructive options. Cell and growth factors are incorporated into the scaffold prior to implantation. As the cartilage tissue regenerates the polymer scaffold biodegrades leaving only the regenerated tissue.
Q. When will these options be available clinically?
The research progress depends heavily on funding. We have not been able to secure funding for 2017 onwards yet which means that we are still a while off any clincal trials.
Q. How much will the prosthetic cost?
It is hoped that the cost of the prosthetic will be as affordable as possible and should be comparable with a pair of glasses. However, at this stage of the project we cannot put an exact figure on the cost.
Q. How can we be updated on how the project is going?
We will be doing updates on our blog page on how the project is progressing.
Q. How can I get involved?
For families, friends and the general public - There will be stages in the project where we will be collecting information such as study later this year on scanning patient data using photogrammetry. If you are in the Brisbane area when we need participants we will make a blog update on how you can get involved if you are interested. For researchers - We love collaborating! If you think you can help us, please get in contact. We also offer an international Master’s degree in Biofabrication, for more information go to the course page. For industry partners and potential funding opportunities - We have been lucky enough to receive Advance Queensland seed funding to see us through the first year of our project. To help us realise the goals we have for FutureHear please get in contact.
Q. Is there anywhere I can go for more information about Microtia?
The Australian Microtia and Atresia Support Centre is part of Hear and Say. If you have any questions or queries you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them on 07 3850 2111. Every year they also host the Australian Microtia and Atresia Conference. We will be presenting there amongst some other amazing professionals in the area of Microtia and Atresia, hearing loss and reconstructive surgery. This year the conference is being held on the 15-17 September 2016. For more information visit the conference page.
Q. What programs does Hear and Say offer?
For all information on the programs and services that Hear and Say offer visit their website.
Q. What other research projects are happening in this area?
For all information on other science, biomedical engineering and technology projects check out the Biofabrication and Tissue Morphology group. For all speech pathology and hearing related clinical research check out Hear and Say’s Research and Innovation division.