The answer is: a little bit. A little bit better.
This last trip to Kansas City Medical Center was remarkable….
Not just for the test results either.
These tests verified that I have had improvement in the lower frequencies as seen in my last testing in December 2018. However, no other new significant gains. The fact remains that it is stunning that my ear repaired itself at all. We will continue to monitor and test, but that may be the extent of hearing improvement for this test subject.
Speaking of which… it looks like there will only be 26 of us in this first human trial group. The study sponsor Novartis apparently has decided upon a few things. First, that they have demonstrated what they set out to do. Namely, they can deliver a drug to the inner ear without harm. Secondly, while they have seen significant hearing improvement in some subjects..it is not yet predictable. They don’t know why it worked in some patients and not in others. That diagnostic is the second part of the holy grail of genetic repair of hearing loss.
Across the globe, there are several scientific teams working their way down this genetic path. One or more of them will also likely benefit from the published work that Novartis has done so far. As an interested patient, I am convinced it can be done.
One of the reasons I remain convinced was the second part of my visit this last trip. I spent one afternoon at the research lab of Dr Hinrich Staecker. Dr Staecker for newcomers to the blog, is my surgeon and the designer of the surgical techniques to “dose” the inner ear with a virus carrying the gene to repair hearing loss.
What he and his team are doing and researching is right out of a Michael Crighton novel. Using super computers they are trying to map the entire molecular structure of the inner ear. Again searching for diagnostic reliability. He uses a molecular 3D printer to create structures. One of his team has figured out how to build molecules that interlock just like Legos. I guess they could build a molecular train set if they wanted to ..
Another part of his research team is doing serious work on tinnitus. They are identifying “markers” to help diagnose and predict tinnitus. They have seen tinnitus present itself where there are damaged hair cells, but not where the cell is completely gone. There is absolutely remarkable science being done here and elsewhere. For another example, there is this mapping work being done: http://www.hearingreview.com/2018/12/researchers-map-functioning-inner-ear/
All this is to say that everything I am seeing, reading and experiencing continues to convince me that real restoration of hearing loss in human beings will be regularly possible in my lifetime. And let me note that I am 70 years old, so they better keep movin right along
Thanks again for your report and glad to hear there was at least progress. Now to hope and pray for the genetic road map for diagnostic and treatment reliability. Being 70 the “in our lifetime” part starts looking much shorter than when we were in 1st grade 🙂