Spire Corp., a Bedford, Mass., developer of solar energy, biomedical and optoelectronics technology, announced it has received a two-year, $870,000 Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) to develop a high-power fiber laser capable of performing myringotomy and middle-ear surgery without the need for anesthesia. The grant has been funded for $438,000 for the first year. The second year of funding is subject to the availability of funds and the satisfactory progress of the project. Myringotomy is a common procedure, typically performed in children under age five, in which the tympanic membrane (eardrum) is punctured to drain fluid and reduce the risk of ear infection. Approximately 1 million children undergo this procedure every year in the US. In the first phase of the project, Spire developed a 1-W fiber laser and demonstrated the capability of forming controlled openings in animal fascia tissue -- 10 times the power of the Phase I laser, making it a candidate for replacing conventional scalpel surgery (which requires anesthesia) with a procedure resulting in less trauma, Spire said. The new myringotomy instrument will be evaluated at the Children's Hospital in Boston under the direction of Dennis Poe, MD.