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Active Transport of Peptides Across the Intact Human Tympanic Membrane.


We previously identified peptides that are actively transported across the intact tympanic membrane (TM) of rats with infected middle ears. To assess the possibility that this transport would also occur across the human TM, we first developed and validated an assay to evaluate transport in vitro using fragments of the TM. Using this assay, we demonstrated the ability of phage bearing a TM-transiting peptide to cross freshly dissected TM fragments from infected rats or from uninfected rats, guinea pigs and rabbits. We then evaluated transport across fragments of the human TM that were discarded during otologic surgery. Human trans-TM transport was similar to that seen in the animal species. Finally, we found that free peptide, unconnected to phage, was transported across the TM at a rate comparable to that seen for peptide-bearing phage. These studies provide evidence supporting the concept of peptide-mediated drug delivery across the intact TM and into the middle ears of patients.

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