Have you ever been asked, “If you would have to lose one of your five senses what would it be?” For most of us we would not know how to answer this simple question. All of our five senses play a very crucial role in analyzing and interpreting our surroundings. Imagine being unable to see a car speeding in your direction or not being able to taste a magnificent meal prepared by your significant other. Each one of our senses plays a vital role in our daily lives. Recently, physicians have been working to correct problematic conditions pertaining to the loss of sensory information. Across the globe recent medical breakthroughs are being pioneered in restoring the sense of hearing to patients with auditory damage. The treatment, –Stem Cells-. Physicians are using stem cell based procedures to promote the regeneration of damaged auditory cells; with potential to restore the full spectrum of hearing to the patient.
The Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Texas and the University of California San Francisco recently was granted FDA approval to start clinical trials with child patients who suffer from hearing loss by use of cellular medicine. This treatment is a revolutionary step towards helping these child patients reverse their signs of hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of the most common birth defects affecting three in every one thousands births. Clearly, finding a method to help these children with the disorder and live normal lives is a necessity and cellular medicine has shown very promising results towards this progression.
Hearing loss is often due to the degeneration of important hair follicles lining part of the inner ear (also known as the cochlea). There are two types of these hair follicles, the first amplifies sound deeper into the ear where the second type of hair follicle can receive these amplified sound waves and transmit them to the brain for processing. This is a basic model of how your ears transmit auditory stimuli to sensory information. Without these hair follicles functioning properly the sensation of sound is lost. At this time medical field focused their research regarding correcting the signs of hearing loss. The basic principle being if we could replace the lost hair follicles and/or regenerate the damaged hairs there is the possibility of regaining the sense of hearing.
The physicians at the Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Texas and at UCSF decided to try the approach by use of cellular based medicine. Cell based medicines have shown the ability to replace lost tissues and secrete pro-survival and growth factors to restructure the degenerating hair follicles. Over the course of the next year more than thirty child patients will receive stem cell transplants to help correct their signs of hearing loss.
The first of their patients who received treatment for the correction of hearing loss was Madeline Conner. She was born with auditory damage that was not genetically driven but rather formed from a degenerative process. Madeline’s physician applied a precise stem cell transplant to her inner ear and a few months post-surgery she began to hear and speak with normal syntax. This type of improvement is exactly what the medical community has in goal. Since Madeline’s speech improvement, it also showed that her hearing is improving. This is due to the act of hearing your own verbal tones greatly affects the way you pronounce words. Without the ability to hear your own tones and speech patterns it is nearly impossible to speak clearly. Stem cell therapy clearly had beneficial results for restoring the function of hearing to Madeline. Stem cell therapy gave this young girl a more promising future.
Stem cell therapy is exponentially growing and more advanced biological procedures are being discovered daily. Throughout time there has been little hope to correcting problems dealing with the loss of cells that are for sensory functions. As an organism our senses are essential to live productive lives and the thought of eliminating one sense would be devastating. As cellular based therapy advances we will no longer have to fret over “what sense we would choose to lose” because soon we will be able to restore them, just like in the case of Madeline Conner.
Copyright © 2012 Alex Martin MD & Devin Stone, Los Angeles, CA
- “Hearing Loss-Overview.” WebMD.com. WebMD, 13 Apr. 2011. Web. 24 May 2012. <http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/hearing-loss-overview>.
- “KidsHealth.” What’s Hearing Loss? Kids Health Magazine. Web. 24 May 2012. <http://kidshealth.org/kid/health_problems/sight/hearing_impairment.html>.
- “Newswise.” Chronic Pain Is Relieved by Cell Transplantation in Lab Study. UCSF. Web. 24 May 2012. <http://www.newswise.com/articles/chronic-pain-is-relieved-by-cell-transplantation-in-lab-study?ret=/articles/list>.
- “Stem Cells Used to Regenerate Hearing.” NBC-2.com. NBC News. Web. 24 May 2012. <http://www.nbc-2.com/story/18610064/stem-cells-used-to-regenerate-hearing>.