Stem cells to rescue hearing impairment


Hear! Hear!!

Babbling and gurgling at 18 months may not be so cute after all. Study indicates that, if, by 18 months, a baby cannot process language and show signs of speech, there is cause for concern. One of the main reasons for delayed speech could be the loss of hearing at birth itself.

The good news is that, when detected early, hearing impairment can be addressed, thereby preventing further complications and ensuring speech at the right age.

The role of umbilical cord stem cells in this effort has created a ripple in the medical scenario. Researchers are performing a safety study using a child’s umbilical cord blood stem cells to try and restore hearing loss. This treatment does not however include patients who are deaf because of a genetic anomaly. How stem cells address hearing loss:

  1. Children will undergo a series of blood tests, hearing and speech tests. A process called Magnetic Resonance Imaging will view the signals that travel through the tract from the inner year to the brain.
  2. Researchers will then obtain children’s stored cord blood for treatment.
  3. The stem cells will be administered to the children through IV transfusion, and they will be observed for several hours in the hospital.
  4. With continuous monitoring, repeated scans and tests for the first one year, children will be assured of a non surgical solution to profound hearing impairment.

“More importantly, this is the first treatment with the potential to restore normal hearing”, says Dr.Baumgartner, guest research collaborator at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School.


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