Health news

Cord blood stem cells to treat congenital deafness

Stem cells and deafness
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An American research team has launched as study regarding treatment of a certain type of congenital deafness using stem blood cells from the umbilical cord.

This rare form of deafness affects 6 out of every 1,000 babies born, with hearing possibly being restored with this treatment. According to the study organisers, the progress achieved in the care of premature babies has meant an increase in the number of babies suffering from congenital deafness. Nearly 15% of little Americans thus suffer from a loss of high or low frequency hearing, which can potentially result in language development problems.

Restoring hearing in cases of profound loss

Faced with such problems, this study anticipates using stem blood cells taken from the baby’s umbilical cord, following very encouraging results in animal experiments. A first experiment of this type, it aims to restore hearing by repairing lesions on the organs of the inner ear.

"Children only have 18 months to acquire language skills and, if a child does not hear well, they will not acquire the language skills to speak normally," said James Baumgartner, MD, sponsor of the study and guest research collaborator at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School.

"Currently, the only treatment options for sensorineural hearing loss are hearing aids or cochlear implants," Dr Fakhri surgeon at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.

Stem blood cells as an alternative to surgery

Patient recruitment will be launched by telephone interviews with parents to determine the children’s eligibility (one of the criteria is that the child’s umbilical cord blood has been collected and stored in the CBR private bank). In totally, this first phase aims to recruit 10 children between the ages of 6 weeks to 18 months. The umbilical stem cells will be injected by IV and the children will stay under observation in hospital for a few hours, before coming back a month, then six months later to take tests again.

"This study is exciting because it might offer a non-surgical option for some children with profound loss. More importantly, this is the first treatment with the potential to restore normal hearing," said Linda Baumgartner.

"First FDA-Approved Study of Stem Cells to Treat Hearing Loss Begins at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital," press release from Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.

"Safety of Autologous Human Umbilical Cord Blood Mononuclear Fraction to Treat Acquired Hearing Loss in Children," Study,

See more: Pregnancy & babies
To find out more: Congenital deafness
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