MSU Students Key Players in Local Startup
Raya Fanuzzi | Friday Sep. 1st, 2023
RestorEar, a Bozeman-based medical device startup company, is spearheading the development of therapeutic technologies for hearing health, while simultaneously creating an environment for collaboration and innovation. The company is focused on developing non-pharmaceutical products for ear health for both everyday consumers and clinical patients.
The company is in the process of manufacturing its first consumer-oriented product, the ReBound, an adjustable headband with two cold packs that rest above each ear. The device is made to be worn 20-minutes daily, or as needed, and is intended to remedy damage inflicted on the inner ear from noise exposure. The ReBound will be the first research-backed hearing health device on the market that’s been engineered to minimize hearing damage after it’s been done. RestorEar approaches hearing loss as a global challenge with unmet needs. Currently, the only non-pharmaceutical devices for hearing loss are preventative, like earplugs and earmuffs, as mentioned on the company’s website. The way ResorEar sees it, loud sounds are around us all the time, and the company is dedicated to providing drug-free treatments that work with the noisy reality of everyday life.
The company was founded in 2017 by Curtis King and Suhrud Rajguru. King is CEO of RestorEar and brings with him over a decade of experience as Lead Product Development Engineer at Lucent Medical Systems, as well as an additional ten-plus years in the biotechnology and biophysics fields. Rajguru, with a Ph.D. in Bioengineering, is Chief Scientific Officer at RestoreEar. He is also a full-time professor of Biomedical Engineering and Otolaryngology at the University of Miami, where he’s been for over a decade within the Department of Otolaryngology. (For we laypeople, otolaryngology is a medical specialty focused on the ears, nose, and throat.) Additionally, Rajguru works part-time as a Research Health Scientist in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
King and Rajguru are experts with over two decades of experience in their respective fields, and as founders of RestorEar, they’ve made it a point to prioritize collaboration and fresh innovation. According to King, they are always on the lookout for young, talented candidates. The co-founders have had a handful of interns from MSU work by their sides. Post-graduation, one of those interns is now at RestorEar full-time as a mechanical engineer. “We are lucky to have a strong talent pool to draw from, and to be in close collaboration with talented researchers and clinical teams,” says King, “I think today more than ever, having a young, diverse, and fresh team is a key to success. Seeking out strong candidates with solid character, work ethic, and skills, is the best approach for developing products and technology that will impact the lives of everyone in society. Super important in the medical device space.”
The direct cooling of the inner ear, that the ReBound headband provides, is backed by significant preclinical data, and so-called therapeutic hypothermia has been used in clinics for general neurological protection for decades, Rajguru mentions. “New research has shown a link between hearing loss and long-term neurocognitive decline, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia; hearing loss is the number one modifiable risk factor for neurological decline,” Rajguru says. Earlier this year, the startup was awarded its third National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to fund its efforts in developing a clinical device specifically aimed to preserve hearing over the long-term in patients who’ve had cochlear implants. With the help of MSU interns, the device is being developed to support the same research on therapeutic hypothermia used to develop the ReBound headband. Additionally, the company was selected as one of around 25 companies to be part of the 2023 Coulter Investment Forum this past June, hosted by the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. At the investment forum, RestorEar was able to make a short pitch to potential investors.
RestorEar began in King’s renovated garage space, where the company still operates today. The small local startup has plans that are anything but small. Working out of a garage, the company has grown into a collaborative and innovative workspace that’s leading advancements in technology for ear health. RestorEar plans to continue growing and extending its product line to benefit patients undergoing various inner ear and middle ear surgeries, and those experiencing vertigo and other balance dysfunctions originating in the inner ear.
To learn more about RestorEar and its products, visit https://restorear.com