UK Scientists to Test Stem Cell Treatments on Babies in the Womb

By Gary Cutlack on at

A clinical trial that tests injecting foetal stem cells into babies that are still inside mummy's tummy has been announced, with scientists hoping that this particular procedure could help help unborn babies diagnosed with brittle bone disease.

Development of the technique is being led by a joint team comprising of doctors from Sweden's Karolinska Institute and the UK's Great Ormond Street Hospital, and will use stem cells from aborted pregnancies to help treat those still in the womb. The stem cell concept hopes that donated cells hopefully take root in the unborn child and replace the wony DNA it contains in the bones -- hopefully helping it develop normally without the grim future afforded to those diagnosed with brittle bone disease, or osteogenesis imperfecta.

The stem cells will be injected into the foetus when it's between 20 and 34 weeks old, with further injections once it's born. The team will then check the baby's development to see if it has tougher bones that are less prone to breaking than those with the untreated disease.

Dr Gotherstrom from the Karolinska Institute told the BBC: "It is the first in-­man trial and, if successful, it will pave the way for other pre­natal treatments when parents have no other option." [BBC]

Image credit: Unborn baby from Shutterstock