In recent years, researchers have undertaken a number of successful animal studies to repair damage to the inner ear through the transplantation of stem cells obtained from umbilical cord blood. Now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted approval for the first study using cord blood stem cells to treat sensorineural hearing loss in children.
The study will be conducted at Childrens’ Memorial Hermann Hospital and Cord Blood Registry in Houston, Texas. The subjects will be ten infants, aged six weeks to eighteen months, who suffered hearing loss after birth. Children with hearing loss due to genetic disorders will not be included in the study. Due to the increased survival rate of infants born prematurely, the indigence of hearing loss in young children has continued to increase.
The infants will receive stem cells obtained from their own stored umbilical cord blood. The stem cells will be introduced through an IV infusion on an outpatient basis. Periodic evaluations will be conducted to assess the effectiveness of the treatment. . The principal investigator, otolaryngologist Samer Fakhri, M.D., is hopeful that his study will lead to a non-surgical treatment for hearing loss in children.