According to recent medical reports, researchers from UC San Francisco were able to safely transplant the stem cell of a woman into her developing fetus, which in turn resulted in the live birth of an infant diagnosed with a fatal fetal disorder.
The young infant, who had gotten sick during the second trimester of the mother’s pregnancy because of alpha thalassemia, was the first candidate enrolled at the onset of the clinical trial.
Its birth occurred back in February 2018, which was about four months after the procedure was done. The goal of the researchers was to effectively treat the blood condition, which is brought on by a specific gene that is carried by almost 5% of the world’s population.
Those involved in the project were also quick to highlight that even though their main objective was to assess whether or not the parent’s stem cells would engraft or integrate into the bone of the fetus and go on to generate healthy bloody cells throughout the infants life, this first phase of the trial was primarily done in order to establish if the procedure, which also included infusing the parent’s stem cells together using several blood transfusions, would ultimately be safe.
According to the medical team who performed this revolutionary stem cell transplant procedure, this achievement is the sum of almost 10 years of intense research.
Doctors also stated that since women who receive an alpha thalassemia diagnosis often feel totally demoralized by the news and in some cases end up terminating the pregnancy, the successful procedure would provide them with new hope.
To achieve such a pioneering stem cell procedure on the infant, needed a wide range of expertise from different medical specialists. The young infant, whose mother was unaware of being a carrier of the disorder, was born after 37 weeks and weighed less than 5 lbs. At the time, she had cleared to leave the hospital and had been taken back home to her family who lived in Hawaii.
Despite the surgeons’ success, the infant will still require more blood transfusions or perhaps an entirely new stem cell transplant in order to remain healthy.
Throughout the pregnancy, doctors used standard utero blood transfusions to treat the fetus. This began after a medical clinic situated nearby the family’s hometown discovered life-threatening swelling, also known as hydrops, during a routine ultrasound.
The swelling reflected how the body responded to a lack of oxygen and intense anemia, which is a clear indicator of alpha thalassemia-major. This particular condition is also considered to be the most severe strain of the disorder.