FIRST DEAFNESS CURE WITH STEM CELLS?
Chloe Sohl was a happy kid, hanging with friends, worrying about her looks, and trying to stay awake in stupid math class, when something really, really, surprising happened to her.
She went deaf.
Is there a good time to go deaf?
If it happens at the EXACT second when the kid who’s thumpin’ your seat back starts screaming? Yeah. That’s OK.
Long as you get yer hearing back after you land.
But forever? And in high school when you, seriously, NEED to jabber all day and all night with other kids to keep SANE? And be hooked up to music when, THEORETICALLY, you should be studying? Ugh!
SOCIAL ISOLATION. CONFUSION AND MISERY.
Chloe wasn’t completely deaf yet but it was bad and getting worse. Hearing aids helped a little. Maybe drugs would slow things down. Eventually, though, Chloe’s ears were over.
Some say deafness isn’t bad. Kinda cool, actually. Maybe you’ve seen young people talking in sign. Their fingers dance, their eyes gleam, and their faces are animated. It’s amazing and it is beautiful to watch. This isn’t a disability, it’s a gift. Cochlear implants are for slugs.
But Chloe wasn’t trying to make a political statement. She just wanted her life back.
Her folks (both doctors) explored all the “safe” possibilities and came up dry. Should they go the edge? Should they gamble or should they accept a life of silence for their daughter? They had heard about a Korean company, RNL Bio, that offers stem cell cures. After talking to the docs there, they decided to take a chance.
“ We only did it, once we were convinced it would be safe for our daughter to have this treatment. Among the things that were reassuring about the treatment were the fact that the cells are coming from her own body .. That decreases, a great deal, chances of a mishap,“ says her dad. (Video below.)
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
Chloe became a “medical tourist”. After sending off some tissue samples to RNL Bio, she traveled to Japan where stem cells were infused into her body. MISTER ScienceAintSoBad doesn’t know what she was thinking when they hooked her to the IV; HE would have been thinking “Time to kiss my butt goodbye”.
Luckily, nothing terrible happened to Chloe. She returned to the U. S. and, eventually, got back all the hearing in one ear and most in the other. She could hear again. The first American – the first earthling, as far as we know – to have been thus “cured” of deafness by stem cells.
ISN’T THIS A LITTLE TOO PAT?
ISN’T THIS KINDA CRAZY AND IRRESPONSIBLE?
AND WHAT’S WITH THE QUOTES AROUND CURED?
Uh. Yeah, yeah, and I’ll put quotes anywhere I want to. My blog.
Here’s the thing.
Stefan Heller (Stanford University School of Medicine) knows about hearing loss. He’s a revered pioneer in this field. His remarks to MISTER ScienceAintSoBad were short and clear. He isn’t a fan of this kind of thing.
We’ll leave it at that.
Research into hearing loss is going great guns, but it’ll be a long time till you see cures announced. The researchers are careful. They don’t want to risk hurting as many people as they help. Or taking money under false pretexts.
The burden is heavy. It’s how we do science.
So what do these magicians at RNL Bio know that the rest of the world doesn’t?
Maybe it’s WHO they know. According to an article in Korea Times (November 15, 2010), the company gave breaks to lawmakers in return for favors. An investigation was launched into its practices this year.
It clones dogs.
It sell cosmetics (stem cell based).
A couple of patients died. Not saying it’s their fault. You gotta worry a LITTLE though, right?
And its success stories, like the carefully prepared video on YouTube that’s posted below, are more often touted in unchallenged venues then in professional forums.
ARE RNL BIO’S ETHICAL PRACTICES POOR?
Medical experiments on human beings is kinda complicated territory. We let cancer patients do “trials”, for example. Usually, this is a last resort. But, still, however tightly controlled, these are experiments (with strict protocols). Unlike most research facilities, institutions that cater to “medical tourism” aren’t under that much scrutiny. Their published studies and follow-ups are a little sparse. As far as hearing loss goes, we haven’t heard of any other successful stem cell cures like this one in a human.
Was Chloe Stohl just lucky? Was it the other drug that was in her system at the same time? Was it a rare case of spontaneous recovery unrelated to the stem cell infusion? Why isn’t her current health status public? Were we all tricked, somehow? Was it a made up story?
This blog’s detective agency is busy with Congressman Wiener, right now. No time to figure what’s behind the curtain in the Sohl case. Probably we’ll never know.
How do we rate this one?
ScienceAintSoBadRating for a good yarn = 10
ScienceAintSoBadRating for good science? Uh… Jury? Hey. Where’s the jury? Are they still out?
Credit for the image of an ear (has nothing to do with stem cells, by the way):
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.