Center Announces Hearing Loss Study
CBR is collaborating with three leading medical institutions to initiate a clinical study within the next few months that will evaluate the use of a child's own newborn stem cells to treat hearing loss caused by an accident or severe illness.
My friend says clinical trials are being planned or may already be underway to treat hearing loss and other conditions in children using their own cord blood. Adult trials could occur next year, according to him. He already applied to be on the list and wants to be a pioneer for the first adult human deaf clinical trials. I give it 3-5 years. The wait is not so long, certainly not "decades" like some experts say to appease the Deaf who would oppose everything that treats hearing loss.
Stem cells is already being used for dozens of different diseases/conditions of which hearing loss is one of them. He wanted a cochlear implant but after learning that a hearing loss treatment is around the corner, he canceled the CI appointment and is going to wait for the real thing. He says if he isn't accepted to a clinical trial, he will just travel and get it done in another country. He's sick and tired of being deaf and not hearing good enough with HAs.
Hes currently emailing doctors and scientists for additional information and when they will perform their own trials. Adult trials will either use cord blood stem cells(making sure it's a good match) or your own adult stem cells which can be harvested from your skin/blood. Countries like China have been treating deafness/hearing loss for over a year now. The improvement is supposed to be on the order of 20-30db today but this will increase as stem cell technology matures. Ultimately normal hearing of 25db or better will be attained.
He told me that cochlear implants will be obsolete shortly after we hear news all over of success with hearing loss stem cells. He says those who got CI recently will be furious/irate that they didn't wait just a little longer. He also says that a CI damages/destroys all your residual hearing and other parts of the cochlea making your chances of ever being able to benefit from stem cells in the implanted ear poor. He's recommending anyone with residual hearing to save their ears and have a little patience for stem cells.
We also talked about it becomming mandatory for all deaf/hoh babies to get their hearing loss treated once stem cell technology is mature, could be 20 years from now. Just about all hearing parents will be more than happy to have their baby be hearing. Some deaf parents may oppose this which is selfish and unfair when such a safe, easy treatment is available.
There are so many advantages to stem cells over cochlear implants that it's worth the 3-5 year wait. He says itll be just a year. The cost will be perhaps $15,000 for both ears, the risks will be much less and the rewards much greater. He also believes that while todays stem cell technology can partially restore your hearing, in the near future youll be able to fully restore your hearing. I say this remains to be seen, it's a question of when, not if. But he knows about realistic expectations and we would be very happy to achieve a 20db improvement initally and later on achieve further improvements as stem cell technology matures.
Imagine that today is the year 2012 and that stem cells is being done on humans with great results. A such example would be something as shown below(see audiograms) from what we know so far. We know very little and still don't have a real answer on the date and such but im hearing from a growing number of people and the number of anecdotes is rapidly increasing. At this point, it is almost certain that before 2020 we will see large numbers of people getting stem cells. The wait is on the order of a few years, not decades! My parents are very excited for me and my dad will help me afford stem cells, including making the trip to another country if I can't get into a clinical trial in America.
This person wishes to hear better. Even with max gains(Deafdude: Max gains improved my speech by 20%!) on his HAs, his hearing still isn't that great. His unaided audiogram is very similar to mine and is typical for profound losses. Aided he hears great in the lows(Deafdude: That's one reason I skipped CI) but it takes a nosedive above 500Hz in both quantity and quality. His mid frequency hearing, like mine is very poor and his highs are nonexistant. He is glad he saved both ears for stem cells instead of destroying/wasting it with CI.(Deafdude: I am not against CI if you already have no residual hearing to risk) His old audiologist had recommended he wait a few years for stem cells and that a CI would probably disqualify you from being able to get stem cells for many reasons. The audiologist also pointed out that CI will soon be obsolete and no longer manufactored nor supported.
He got the stem cell treatment and begin to improve. He is so glad he resisted the temptation for CI and saved his residual hearing in both ears. Some of his friends got CI and are happy with CI(Deafdude: I give CI the credit it deserves for those with no residual hearing) but won't be able to benefit from stem cells in the implanted ear.(Deafdude: More and more of my friends are skipping CI for stem cells) When all the hair cells have settled down in their new home in his cochlea, he noticed a very drastic improvement(Deafdude: A realistic improvement is 20db) in both unaided and aided hearing with the same HAs he had prior to the treatment. His HAs were reprogrammed with less than max gains in the lows as not to overamplify.(Deafdude: HAs can't give better than baseline of 0db HL) He hears better than CI at 1000Hz and below. His speech score is almost as good as those with CI! He can still attain further improvement so he will return when stem cell technology matures.
True to his word, he returned about three years later and achieved another huge improvement even though there's diminishing returns in the lows. He knows that stem cells can't give him normal unaided hearing. Even chickens/birds with their amazing natural ability to regrow hair cells still end up with a mild hearing loss! Given the fact he finds high frequencies annoying(Deafdude: My hearing friends and family cover their ears) and that very little sounds/speech takes place above 2000Hz(Deafdude: As I learned from my dad and others) and also the fact he hears way better than the now obsolete cochlear implant technology, he is leaving well enough alone on his doctor's advice. Getting more hair cells would not achieve much, if anything and risk hearing worse in the lows due to overcrowding. Too many hair cells living in your cochlea is as bad as too few!