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Stem Cells To Treat Lung Disease In Infants

A new study has found that it is safe and feasible to use stem cell therapies for preventing or treating lung disease in preterm infants.

| March 5, 2014 | Health

Asian Scientist (Mar. 5, 2014) - A phase I clinical study conducted by researchers in Korea has found that it is safe and feasible to use stem cell therapies for preventing and treating lung disease in preterm infants.

Advances in neonatal care for very preterm infants have greatly increased the chances of survival for these fragile infants. However, preterm infants have an increased risk of developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a serious lung disease, which is a major cause of death and lifelong complications.

In the new study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers evaluated the safety and feasibility of using stem cell therapies on very preterm infants to prevent and treat BPD.

The phase I, single-center trial, transplanted mesenchymal stem cells derived from the umbilical cord into the windpipes of nine very preterm infants (24-26 weeks gestational age) who were at high risk of developing BPD.

All patients who received the treatment tolerated the procedure well without any immediate serious adverse effects.

Thirty-three percent of treated infants developed moderate BPD and none developed severe BPD. In comparison, 72 percent of a matched untreated group developed moderate or severe BPD.

Another serious side effect of very preterm birth, retinopathy of prematurity (an eye disease requiring surgery), tended to occur less often in treated infants. Overall, all nine treated infants survived to discharge, and only three developed moderate BPD.

The phase I study suggests that administration of mesenchymal stem cells to the windpipes of preterm infants is safe and feasible.

According to Dr Won Soon Park, who led the study, “These findings strongly suggest that phase II clinical trials are warranted to test the efficacy of mesenchymal stem cell transplantation, which could lead to new therapies to prevent or cure BPD.”

Dr. Park and colleagues are currently conducting a long-term safety and follow-up study of these nine preterm infants.

The article can be found at: Change YS et al. (2014) Mesenchymal Stem Cells For Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia: Phase 1 Dose-Escalation Clinical Trial.

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Source: Elsevier; Photo: tamakisono/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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