It’s nothing new that many medical breakthroughs have been precipitated by people trying weird things: chewing bark, drinking from pools of quinine. But an Israeli startup, Otic-Pharma, owes its most recent great idea to boredom: specifically, the boredom that inspired IDF soldiers to try cleaning their ears with the business end of a bullet.
If a Q-tip in your ear is bad for you, imagine a hunk of lead: battalion doctors were faced with thousands of ear infections. Otic’s founder, Dr. Eran Eilat, saw that the soldiers’ activity levels made it impossible for antibiotic liquid to enter the ear canal properly. So he turned to the technology that brought us countless messy college parties and the rise of molecular gastronomy: foam. The foam takes the shape of the ear canal and eventually dissolves, leaving behind the ingredient that cures the infection. Unlike with traditional eardrops or wicks, the patient doesn’t have to lie down, or sacrifice his hearing.
The future of ear foam may include treatments for animals as well as humans–but for now, we’ll hope that despite the promise of easy treatment, IDF soldiers will apply the warning on the Q-tip package to the insides of their magazines.