Hoosier-Made 'Ear-in-a-Dish' Making Waves

Posted: Updated:
The company says it is able to grow a functional mouse ear from stem cells in 60 days. The company says it is able to grow a functional mouse ear from stem cells in 60 days.

A Fishers life sciences company is looking to revolutionize the drugs and devices used to treat hearing loss. Monon Bioventures LLC is working with Dr. Karl Koehler from the Indiana University School of Medicine on a so-called "ear-in-a-dish." Koehler says the stem cell technology will allow scientists to better study the inner ear and the development of hearing loss. During an interview after winning Scientific Breakthrough of the Year at the 2016 Mira Awards, Koehler and Monon Bioventures Chief Executive Officer Joe Trebley said they're looking to get the technology commercialized.

The company says, thanks to Koehler's breakthrough, it is able to grow a functional mouse ear from stem cells in 60 days. Koehler says his team is now working to refine the process, "like turning crude oil into gasoline." He says Monon Bioventures has helped him get new grant funding to move the process forward and commercialize the technology.

Trebley says, while it is "pretty easy" to grow the outside of the ear, but the inner workings can be more difficult. He says the innovation allows scientists to look at the ear in a way it hasn't previously been examined.

Koehler co-founded the Indiana University startup Auricyte LLC in 2014 with fellow med school researchers Eri Hashino and Gerry Oxford. It was among five "Best in Show" winners at the Venture Club's 2015 Innovation Showcase. Fellow Mira winner Pi Labs, the company behind the Edwin the Duck smart toy, took top honors at that competition.

  • Perspectives

    • The Importance of Strategic Planning

      How many years have you put work-life balance on your list of New Year's resolutions? Every day, I see so many business owners struggle with the same issues: working 60+ hours each week, not being able to remember the last time they had a vacation, and simply feeling like it's up to them to do it all in their business. After working with countless business owners to identify and overcome their challenges, I've realized the most common root cause is a lack of strategic planning.



  • Most Popular Stories

    • Nestl√© Planning $80M Anderson Expansion

      Nestlé USA has unveiled plans to invest nearly $80 million into its Anderson operations. Our partners at The Herald Bulletin report the company will purchase new equipment for the facility and add 30 jobs.

    • Sports Corp Seeks $25M For 4-Year Stretch

      The first-ever State of Sports address from the president of the Indiana Sports Corp. included a major fundraising announcement. Ryan Vaughn says the new Indy Championships Fund will push to raise $25 million to support a four-year stretch of major events that ISC says will be "unlike anything Indianapolis has enjoyed in the past." The organization says events during that time are expected to deliver a $670 million economic impact.

    • Electric Works Lands State Incentives

      The first phase of a major redevelopment project in downtown Fort Wayne will receive state assistance. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has awarded a conditional tax credit for Electric Works, a mixed-use innovation district located at the former GE campus. The incentive is part of the IEDC's Industrial Recovery Tax Credit program, used to boost investment in the redevelopment of former industrial facilities. Developers are projecting an initial investment of more than...

    • Well-Known Real Estate Firm Expanding to Fort Wayne

      Texas-based Keller Williams Realty Inc. has announced plans to open its first office in downtown Fort Wayne. Financial details of the real estate company's investment in the location were not immediately disclosed, however the expansion will bring at least 35 jobs to the Allen County city.

    • Tastings Unveils 'Wine Truck'

      Tastings in Indianapolis is taking wine mobile. The Tastings Wine Truck has making the rounds in the city. Owner Ross Bailey says he saw a need for wine offerings at local events that often only serve beer. The wine bar unveiled the truck, a restored 1952 International Harvester Metro, Thursday at its downtown location.