Grrreat! Israeli innovation heals Sumatran tiger

Experimental foam called FoamOtic was developed in Rehovot for humans and animals and expands evenly, covering the whole ear canal.

July 2, 2013 01:46
2 minute read.
Pedang being treated at Ramat Gan Safari.

Tiger being treated Ramat Gan370. (photo credit: Yogev Montekyo)

Pedang, a 14-year-old rare, male Sumatran tiger at Ramat Gan’s Safari Park, has stopped scratching his ear for the first time in years, thanks to the insertion on Thursday of a special experimental foam to treat his chronic condition.

FoamOtic, a new formulation and drug-delivery platform for a combination of known active ingredients, was developed by Otic Pharma in Rehovot for human patients, as well as for dogs and cats that tend to have such infections in their ears.

Pedang underwent acupuncture therapy and steroid treatment at the park a few weeks ago, but it didn’t help him.

Otic Pharma’s vice president for research and development, Dr. Rodrigo Yelin, heard about the tiger’s predicament and offered the experimental treatment to the Safari’s chief veterinarian, Dr. Igal Horowitz, who welcomed the chance to use it on Pedang.

On Thursday he was put under general anesthesia, while Safari staff – under the guidance of Horowitz and Dr. Gila Zur of Hebrew University’s Koret School of Veterinary Medicine – carefully inserted the foam inside his ear canal.

The foam solves the problem of ear drops, as it expands in the ear canal to provide complete and even coverage of the infected area.

It doesn’t drip out of the ear, and provides continuous release of the active pharmaceutical ingredients. Thus, only one application of the drug is necessary.

Horowitz reported on Monday that the tiger, whose mate was never infected in her ears, is no longer scratching and is enjoying “normal behavior.”

In three weeks, Pegang will undergo general anesthesia again to examine his ear more closely, perform tests and determine whether he is indeed rid of the infection.

Otic Pharma staffers prepared a special concoction of antibiotics, steroids and anti-fungal ingredients for the tiger, to be given as a single treatment in an attempt to eradicate the pathogens causing the disease and reduce the underlying inflammation – the likely cause of the tiger’s recurrent ear infections.

The bacterial species plaguing the tiger’s ears is Pseudomonas, a species that was successfully eradicated by FoamOtic preparations in clinical studies in human patients diagnosed with acute otitis externa (known as “swimmer’s ear”).

Horowitz said the tiger has been suffering from a chronic ear infection for several years, but that recently his condition deteriorated and the frequency of the recurrent infection increased.

“We thought that Otic Pharma’s novel treatment had the potential to significantly contribute to the tiger’s recovery and would like to thank Otic Pharma for their generous help,” he said.

Yelin said that the foam, which is in development for the treatment of common ear disorders in humans, is also very well suited for dogs and cats.

“One of its main strengths is that, in contrast to ear drops, it does not spill out of the ear, despite the head-shaking that follows application of ear medications to animals. Our preliminary studies show that FoamOtic is well tolerated by dogs, and we are optimistic that our innovative treatment will be able to alleviate Pedang’s recurrent infections.”

Since the concentration of the active ingredients is more than 100-fold higher than the concentration required to kill the microbes, the long-lasting effect of the foam means that a single application is enough to kill off all the pathogens, whether they are bacteria or yeast.

FoamOtic for the veterinary market is currently at an initial stage of development with initial encouraging results, and the company is seeking a partner to further develop its pet product.

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