Author: Lily Alvarez

Status: Project Concept

Abstract: Acoustic Neuromas & Regenerative Treatment
Written By: Lily Alvarez

Problem: There can be many challenges with the removal of an acoustic neuroma and although the healing therapy is to remove the tumor, the treatment itself can create a secondary problem. The most impactful challenge is created when the tumor is removed, a majority of these patients can suffer hearing loss in the affected ear and if tumors are present bilaterally the removal can leave the patient with complete deafness. How does one go from living a life in sound, to being deaf? Your reality, as you know it, shifts dramatically, the patient will have to learn an entirely new language, sign language and couple that with the emotional impact of the patient living in a world they once could hear now adapting to what they’re missing out on.

Thesis: A potential treatment for patients with hearing loss; utilizes carbon fiber nanotubes and stem cells. By placing the regenerative device on the missing, underdeveloped, or resected cochlear nerve it has the potential to regrow the nerve. If this treatment is successful it will allow patients the chance to hear again.

Solution: With advances in stem cell research and nanotube technology, a treatment for hearing loss is on the brink. Imagine a patient with an Acoustic Neuroma, when their tumor size is substantial enough to need to be removed, the patient ends up losing their hearing due to extensive resection of the cochlear nerve. If the patient’s neurosurgeon can place a carbon fiber nanotube on the remaining portion of the cochlear nerve and then introduce stem cells onto the nanotube and nerve, in theory, the nerve can regenerate and take form of the path created by the nanotube.

Method: The carbon fiber nanotube will give the growing nerve a pathway to follow. It will connect the cochlea to the cochlear nerve. Once the stem cells are introduced they take to the nerve and begin to multiply thus creating a new extension of the nerve.

Impact: With an Acoustic Neuroma the surgical treatment plan allows the surgeon to prepare the nanotube and stem cell replacement to be placed right after the tumor resection. This will greatly impact the patient’s quality of life because they will wake from the surgery with a solution in place. Although any hearing loss won’t be restored immediately, the stem cells will be growing so that in time hearing can potentially be recovered.