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Can autologous cord blood stem cells cure hearing loss in children?

Back in 2009, we reported on research from Italy published in the journal Cell Transplantation that investigated whether hearing loss due to cochlear damage could be repaired by transplanting cord blood stem cells. At the time the research team carried out their testing on animal models. Moving forward to 2011, the research is now ready to be tested on humans.

The University of Texas Health Science Centre in Houston is now recruiting human participants for a trial to investigate the use of autologous cord blood stem cell treatment in children with acquired hearing loss.

Acquired sensorineural hearing loss is characterised by a loss of functioning hair cells in the Organ of Corti, with greater hair cell loss correlating with more severe hearing impairment. Children with sensorineural hearing loss experience difficulty developing normal language which usually leads to poor academic and social development. Currently, there are no reparative therapeutic options available, and treatments are designed to augment the diminished function of the injured Organ of Corti.

Pre-clinical data suggests progenitor cell infusions may enhance intrinsic repair mechanisms in the Organ of Corti which may restore hair cells. This treatment could ultimately lead to hearing improvement. Human umbilical cord blood (hUCB) is an available, autologous, stored progenitor cell population available for potential therapeutic use.

The primary objective of this study is to determine the safety of autologous hUCB infusion in children with acquired hearing loss. The secondary objective is to determine if functional, physiologic and anatomic outcomes are improved following hUCB treatment in this patient population.

The estimated study completion date is 2015. To read more on the study click here

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