Professor Birchall carried out the world’s first stem cell transplant of a windpipe in 2008. Now he wants a clinical trial so he can help 1,300 patients a year with larynx problems. Well done sir! – dg
Stem cell voice box transplant trials could begin in 2013
Speaking at the UK National Stem Cell Network annual science meeting today in York (30 March), Professor Martin Birchall will announce that the first clinical trials for stem cell voice transplants will begin in 2013, thanks to a million pounds provided by the Medical Research Council (MRC).
This revolutionary new kind of transplant treatment could change the lives of to 1300 patients a year in the UK who suffer serious problems with breathing, speaking and swallowing.
Loss of a working larynx (voice box) not only affects speech, swallowing, breathing, but also smell, taste, coughing, lifting and kissing, affecting thousands of people in the UK. Having carried out the world’s first stem cell transplant of a windpipe in 2008, Professor Birchall will be heading up a team to formally assess whether a similar approach can be used to repair problems in a voice box.
This research opens up new possibilities for patients receiving other kinds of transplants as well. One of the main problems currently facing those in need of donor organs is that they will need to take drugs for the rest of their lives as a result of the transplant. This new project, known as RegenVOX proposes that by using stem cells, this method could potentially help restore the patient’s own immune system and reduce the need for immuno-suppresant drugs.