Promising New Treatment with Stem Cells
A new study has found that stem cells taken from amniotic fluid have the potential to treat infants with Necrotizing Enterocolitis. This disease is characterized by cell death (necrosis) of the intestinal lining. There is no definitive cause, but prematurity, blood transfusions, and concentrated formulas all increase the risk of this disease. NEC has roughly a 15 to 20% mortality rate.
Great Ormond Street Hospital funded the UCL Institute of Child Health to conduct a study that researched treatments of NEC. Breast milk and Probiotics were both shown to help with NEC, but their effects are limited, and all too often NEC requires invasive techniques such as surgery to remove dead tissue or a transplant of healthy tissue.
Rats afflicted with this disease were separated into three groups: one group was left untreated, one that was treated with stems cells extracted from their own femurs, and one group that was treated with stem cells from amniotic fluid. The rats treated with stem cells from amniotic fluid were found to have a much higher survival rate than those of the other two groups after only a week of treatment. MRIs revealed significantly decreased inflammation.
Upon further research, amniotic stem cells were found to aide the intestines differently than bone marrow stem cells. Instead of simply regenerating tissue, they released growth factors that reduced inflammation and enhanced new development of tissue. They exhibited actions of repairing the source of disease.
This is the first study to show the treatment potential of amniotic stem cells in intestinal pathology. As more is learned about the process of how amniotic stem cells repair tissue, treatments will evolve and hopefully more invasive techniques will decrease.
posted by Ashley Sterpka (1)