I talked to someone who has some knowlege on this. He said to expect human clinical trials in 2015-2020 timeframe. Give it another 5 years after that for FDA approval. He says it's a question of when, not if. I read articles that state clinical trials for stem cells to treat some forms of blindness will begin in 2011. So it's logical to believe that we will see such clinical trials for deafness a few years after. Certainly not 50-100 years like some Deaf people would like to believe.
I also asked him about the fate of CIs and he says CIs will be obsolete when the real thing becomes available. Itll be a third the $50k cost of CI, safer, better, natural and very popular. Most hearing parents of deaf babies will give them stem cells to improve their hearing. The CI companies will either go out of business or start offering stem cell treatments.
I then asked him what about all those with CIs, he says they will still be able to get stem cells and won't need their CI anymore. I asked him wouldn't results be better on virgin ears that still have residual hearing? He doesn't know that one. However from sources I read, they believe it's better to save your ears for stem cells. Itll be easier to improve hearing when you have existing residual hearing than to start from scratch with none.
He says it's too early to determine what role insurance will have in this. Im guessing insurance will pay for those who are deaf while those who are HOH will need to save up. If insurance considers stem cells for deafness an elective procedure, I will pay out of pocket and dad will help me afford it. I was raised 100% oral and my parents would love to help me hear better. They have been training my ability to understand sounds and speech since I was a baby.
We both know that HAs, CI and stem cells are an individual choice. I will respect other's choice in return that they respect my choice to hear better with stem cells. He did tell me and I fully understand that deaf treatment will be controveral just like CIs once were but are almost fully accepted today except when forced on babies. He says culturally Deaf fear that stem cells will eradicate their way of life. Well, they don't have to seek a treatment for their own deafness. Im sure there will be some born deaf or late deafened who choose to be that way and join the Deaf culture.
For those of us who choose stem cell treatment, I am going to be realistic by asking for a 20db improvement. When that techology starts out, expect a partial improvement. Perhaps in another 10 years the technology will be mature enough to get many people to normal hearing, as defined of 25db or better. No one yet knows the extent of improvement and we may not know till human clinical trials begin. But don't expect normal hearing for a while. Even when it was done on animals, they were still hard of hearing but no longer profoundly deaf.
Those who were born profoundly deaf and never heard a sound in their lives will definately not be interested. I know a blind person who was born that way and that person does not wish to be cured or to ever see. That person does not miss what was never seen. I never heard much in the way of high frequencies and probably never heard above 3000Hz. What little high frequency hearing I had when I was younger is gone, today I don't hear much above 1000Hz. I have made a post about high frequencies not being very important.
I talked to another one of my friends and he agrees with me. He says the highs(2000Hz and up) are annoying and sound like a shrill squeaky sound that gets squeakier as the pitch increases. It has an "eeeee" sound quality. My dad says anything above 2000Hz is just useless noise. It makes me wonder why some are so obsessed/desperate to hear the highs. One of my friends with a CI who now hears the highs says I really am not missing out on much.
With that said, id much rather hear unaided and improve the lows but ill be fine with satisfying my curiousity on what high frequencies *really* sound if I happen to get some ability to hear highs after stem cells. I hear unaided at 65db HL at 250Hz so perhaps ill be down to 45-50db at that frequency. I wonder how much people with this moderate HL hear unaided.