My friend Dennis went to the HLAA and he was kind enough to provide some answers while chatting with me. He was too tired and busy to post the answers right now but will do so in the next few days. I am posting what answers he gave me so far.
He says the 3 doctors don't know for sure on the timeframe but they say 25-50 years just to shut people up who keep nagging the docs and to please those people who secretly hope that stem cells for the deaf does not happen "soon" or even in their lives. I talked to another friend who agrees with me that culturally Deaf people fear that any treatment/cure would destroy their culture so they are hoping everyone stays deaf as long as they live.
The docs did say that testing is currently done on mice and chickens and will move on to monkeys. They said: monkeys are next within the next 5-10 years
human trials take a minimum of 7-15 years. So yea most of us will be alive when the time comes. We will learn alot more before 2020 when trials begin on monkeys. Right now enough is known that deafness can be treated someday.
It's too early to know how many DB improvement, the doctors couldn't even answer that one. However it's known that chickens which can regenerate their own hair cells still end up mildly HOH(25-40db HL) after they are deafened with ototoxic drugs. The new hair cells which were regenerated by chickens are of lesser quality and fewer in quantity than original hair cells. I personally am going to realistically expect a 20db improvement. It will take a very long time before technology can restore profoundly deaf people to normal hearing(maximum 25db HL) but a partial restoration alone is great, youll be able to benefit from HAs again or benefit much more.
There's actually 3 different methods currently being researched. One is "implantation" of stem cells, two is "turn off the stop growing triggers" the third is to try to get support cells to turn into hair cells when hair cells die off. Ill find out more on the other methods soon. It's possible one or more of those methods could be used in humans before stem cells.
I would give it at least 10 years before one or more methods to restore some hearing to the deaf is ready for human clinical trials. In the meantime, there's powerful HAs out there and for those with no residual hearing, there's CI. You can read my previous posts to learn more about HAs and CI.
*update!* HLAA links with PDF answers!
Friday, June 19, 2009
9 a.m. - Noon: Research Symposium, An Update On the Latest Hair Cell Regeneration Research
Cochlear Regeneration: A treatment for severe hearing loss in our lifetime?
George Gates, M.D.
Hair Cell Regeneration-Where Are We & How Did We Get Here?
Douglas Cotanche, Ph.D.
Can We Regenerate the Mammalian Audtory System?
Neil Segil, Ph.D.
Vestibular System Reconstruction
Hinrich Staecker, M.D., Ph.D.