According to new research from
UC Davis Health System, the lower-limb paralysis associated with spina bifida may be treated
prior to birth through a combination of unique
stem cell therapy with surgery.
The animal-model study was headed by Diana Farmer, who is the chair of
UC Davis Department of Surgery and the fetal surgeon who helped pioneer
in utero spina bifida treatment. Spina bifida is a congenital birth defect in which
the spinal cord does not close in a proper manner, which results to lifelong
cognitive, musculoskeletal, and motor disabilities.
“Prenatal surgery revolutionized spina bifida treatment by improving
brain development, but it didn’t benefit motor function as much
as we hoped,” stated Farmer in a UC Davis Health System article.
“We now think that when it’s augmented with stem cells, fetal
surgery could actually be a cure,” said Aijun Wang, who is Farmer’s
chief collaborator and co-director of the UC Davis Surgical Bioengineering
As far as the research is concerned, lambs with myelomeningocele were given
fetal surgery to return exposed tissue to the spinal canal. Known for
their neuroprotective qualities, placenta-derived mesenchymal stromal
cells (PMSCs) from humans were preserved using hydrogel and applied to
the site of the injury.
Animals that received the stem cell treatment were able to walk without
any distinct disability within a few hours after birth, while animals
that didn’t receive the stem cell treatment were unable to stand
on their own power.
Farmer was senior author of the landmark Management of Myelomeningocele
Study (MOMS), which demonstrated that prenatal surgery could improve cognitive
abilities for children born with spina bifida. Each year, 1,500 children
are bone with spina bifida in the United States.
The study is titled, “Placental Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Rescue
Ambulation in Ovine Myelomeningocele,” was funded by the UC Davis
Department of Surgery.
If you are interested in stem cell treatment in Scottsdale,
contact the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine today.