Below you will find part 2 of our Q&A with Dr. Jackler on the future of regenerative therapies for hearing loss. This section covers topics such as cochlear implantation in adults and children, Menieres disease, sources of stem cells and how you can support our research.
If you have further questions, please feel free to ask them below in the comments section or email.
Question 6 – Should my child undergo implantation, or wait for hair cell regeneration?
Jackler – A boy or girl with severe hearing loss today should not wait for the promising advances to come in future years. The reason for this is straightforward. A childs brain is like a sponge, soaking in knowledge and ability in language at an impressive rate. Those of us who have tried to learn a language as an adult have marveled at how easy it is for a young child to it pick up. There is a critical period in childhood where a young child needs simulation of their brain, in order to develop effective use of their inner ears and to develop language. An 8 year old child today should not wait until they are 16 or 18 for the emergence of new techniques. To do so would deprive them of the benefits of current technologies and treatments which can help stimulate their developing brain to integrate hearing and language.
Fortunately we are optimistic that as young adults they will be able to take better advantage of emerging treatments when their brain has become accustomed to receiving at least some stimulation coming from their hearing apparatus even if it is through hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Because we are likely some years away from regenerative treatments, it would be wise to have the child make use of best available current technology. If your ear physician has recommended a cochlear implant for your child, in most circumstances it is preferable to take best advantage of todays advanced techniques while still anticipating a future benefit from newly emerging regenerative therapies in coming years.
Q7 – Will my child still be able to receive regenerative treatments for hearing loss if they have already undergone cochlear implantation or should we only have only one ear implanted in hope of future cures?
Jackler- There is some evidence that having bi-lateral implants is superior, for a childs hearing, to having stimulation only on one side. This raises the question as to whether or not having had a cochlear implant will make the ear less receptive to future regenerative therapies. The cochlear implant electrode becomes surrounded by a cuff of scar tissue. It is fair to say that as of today we dont know whether this will be a substantial barrier to success in regenerative therapy. It may be possible to remove the scar tissue or it may not. It may present an impediment to regenerative treatments. What is clear is that stimulation from a CI helps to keep the hearing nerve alive and active and this is certainly a positive thing with regard to future regenerative treatment methods.
Parents should talk with their ear doctor about the current state-of-the-art technologies and carefully consider one sided vs. two sided implantation. For a baby who was born entirely deaf today many experts would recommend both sides. For an older child who has already had hearing but lost it, discussions of 1-sided implantation are also worthwhile.
Q8 – Might my child still be able to receive regenerative treatments for hearing loss, even if I did not bank their cord blood?
Jackler – Absolutely. Most experts feel that regeneration of inner ear cells will not require umbilical cord blood, but rather will be derived either from cells within the inner ear or possibly created from the deaf person’s skin, fat, or blood cells.
Q9 – I am an adult with hearing loss, who no longer benefits from hearing aids, should I get a cochlear implant, or wait for a cure?
Jackler- As quality of life today matters, I would take full advantage of todays technology while anticipating the likely future benefit from regenerative strategies in the years to come.
Because evolution of replacement of the inner ear through biological means is some years away it makes sense to use the best of todays technology and treatments. Over time the brain, without receiving stimulation from the ears, may become less receptive to stimulation of the inner ear. Therefore it makes sense, if it is required, to use a cochlear implant, perhaps in one ear only, therefore preserving the second side for future regenerative therapy.
Q10- Will you be researching vestibular loss as well, as people with Meniere’s experiece hearing and vestibular loss?
Jackler – We are indeed interested in replacing lost balance cells as well as hearing ones. Many of the scientific advances are as applicable to inner ear vestibular hair cells as they are for auditory ones. The techniques we are working on to peer within the inner ear and microscopically place targeted molecules and/or cells in their proper location are similar for both functions. While this research moves forward, and almost certainly will help folks with vertigo and balance disorders, we are still have much work to do before a treatment is available for use in Meniere’s disease patients.
Q11- How can I stay in touch with the progress that SICHL is making?
Jackler- You can read about our research on our website and stay in touch with the most current announcements here on our blog or social media channels, which you can find the links to below. To subscribe to our upcoming e-newsletter, please email
Q12 – What can I do to help?
Jackler -The success of SICHL will depend partially on our ability to continue to attract and maintain the best and the brightest research minds, as well as to continue to ensure a world class collaborative environment. As we are currently in the funding stage for the groundbreaking research which is already underway at Stanford, please consider giving a generous donation and encouraging others to do the same.
If you would like to help us spread the word about this research and the very real possibility of cures for hearing loss, please join us on our social networks and encourage your friends and family to do so as well.