January 25, 2011

Mother's stem cells could stop defects before birth

Mice studies show that as long as the transplanted stem cells are matched to the mother, it does not seem to matter if they are matched to the fetus.

If the same is true in humans, the stem cell therapy could work on sickle cell anaemia and diseases of the immune system.

"Now that we know a fetus can become tolerant to a foreign stem cell source, we can really think big and consider looking at how other types of stem cells might be used to treat everything from neurological disorders to muscular disorders before birth



Previous attempts to transfer stem cells that matched the fetus failed.

UCSF researchers have tackled a decade-long scientific conundrum, and their discovery is expected to lead to significant advances in using stem cells to treat genetic diseases before birth. Through a series of mouse model experiments, the research team determined that a mother's immune response prevents a fetus from accepting transplanted blood stem cells, and yet this response can be overcome simply by transplanting cells harvested from the mother herself.

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