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Cochlear Forges Research Frontier for Next Generation Cochlear Implant

DENVER - August 2003 - Cochlear Americas, manufacturer of the Cochlear Nucleus line of implants and the world leader in cochlear implant technology, has forged yet another frontier in cochlear implant research - the percutaneous Contour Advance' cochlear implant. The percutaneous implant is a special type of cochlear implant that allows researchers to externally manipulate coding strategies. Coding strategies are the techniques used by the speech processor to translate sound into the signals the implant sends to the cochlea.

This new research platform is currently under clinical trials and not yet commercially available. The trials are designed to accelerate the development of new coding strategies to provide future patients with more advanced options. This type of research cannot be implemented with existing cochlear implants since the electronics are housed in the internal implant. The findings of the research will be applied to the design of Cochlear's future generations of cochlear implants. This research is being done in collaboration with the Research Triangle Institute and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina and Rocky Mountain Cochlear Implant Center in Denver, Colorado. The first patient to receive a cochlear implant with a percutaneous plug was implanted last month at Duke University.

In support of this new research, Cochlear has recently expanded their speech-coding laboratory in their offices in Denver, Colorado. They have also announced that Christopher van den Honert, previously Director of Research at Cochlear Americas, was promoted to Vice President of Research for Cochlear Americas and Vice President of Auditory Encoding Research worldwide.

In his new role, van den Honert will be responsible for conducting and directing research aimed at developing better ways to represent sound through electrical and mechanical stimulation of the inner ear. As part of that role, van den Honert will lead the research on the percutaneous plug.

"We feel that the next major breakthrough in cochlear implant performance will be the result of advanced coding strategies," said Jim Miller, President, Cochlear Americas. "We are delighted that Dr. van den Honert will be leading us in this endeavor and hope that the research will result in future developments and opportunities for cochlear implant recipients."

About Cochlear Implants

Cochlear implants bypass damaged hair cells in the inner ear, providing useful hearing and improved communication to those who receive little or no benefit from hearing aids. The Nucleus 3 system is the latest development in cochlear implant technology. The Nucleus 3 system can be customized to meet the particular needs of recipients' lifestyles and to maximize hearing performance. It is approved for use in profoundly deaf infants as young as 12 months of age and in adults with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears.

About Cochlear Americas

Denver-based Cochlear Americas is the U.S. headquarters for Cochlear Limited, the world leader in cochlear implant technology. Cochlear is a winner of the 2001 Medical Design Excellence Awards for its design of the Cochlear Nucleus 24 Contour' implant and the FDA Commissioner's Special Citation for the development and commercialization of the Cochlear Nucleus 24 Multichannel Auditory Brainstem implant. To date, more than 50,000 people worldwide have received Cochlear Nucleus implants. 

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