Safety, tolerability, and effect of a single aural dose of Dornase alfa at the time of ventilation tube surgery for otitis media: A Phase 1b double randomized control trial

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2024 Feb:177:111832. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2023.111832. Epub 2023 Dec 21.


Background: One third of children require repeat ventilation tube insertion (VTI) for otitis media. Disease recurrence is associated with persistent middle ear bacterial biofilms. With demonstration that Dornase alfa (a DNase) disrupts middle ear effusion biofilms ex vivo, we identified potential for this as an anti-biofilm therapy to prevent repeat VTI. First, safety and tolerability needed to be measured.

Methods: This was a phase 1B double-blinded randomized control trial conducted in Western Australia. Children between 6 months and 5 years undergoing VTI for bilateral middle ear effusion were recruited between 2012 and 2014 and followed for two years. Children's ears were randomized to receive either Dornase alfa (1 mg/mL) or 0.9 % sodium chloride (placebo) at time of surgery. Children were followed up at 2 weeks post-VTI and at 3-monthly intervals for 2 years. Outcomes assessed were: 1) safety and tolerability, 2) otorrhoea frequency, 3) blocked or extruded ventilation tube (VT) frequency, 4) time to blockage or extrusion, 5) time to infection recurrence and/or need for repeat VTI.

Results: Sixty children (mean age 2.3 years) were enrolled with 87 % reaching study endpoint. Treatment did not change otorrhoea frequency. Hearing improved in all children following VTI, with no indication of ototoxicity. Dornase alfa had some effect on increasing time until VT extrusion (p = 0.099); and blockage and/or extrusion (p = 0.122). Frequency of recurrence and time until recurrence were similar. Fourteen children required repeat VTI within the follow-up period.

Conclusion: A single application of Dornase alfa into the middle ear at time of VTI was safe, non-ototoxic, and well-tolerated.

Trial registration: ACTRN12623000504617.

Keywords: Anti-Biofilm; DNase; Dornase alfa; Otitis media; Ventilation tube insertion.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase I

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Deoxyribonuclease I
  • Ear Diseases* / surgery
  • Ear, Middle
  • Humans
  • Middle Ear Ventilation / adverse effects
  • Otitis Media with Effusion* / surgery
  • Otitis Media* / drug therapy
  • Otitis Media* / surgery
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Sodium Chloride


  • dornase alfa
  • Deoxyribonuclease I
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Recombinant Proteins