London: Scientists, including an Indian
-origin researcher, claim to have developed a "miracle" stem
cell treatment which uses mothers` bone marrow to cure deadly
blood diseases in babies who are still in the womb.
Stem cell transplants into unborn babies have long
been a Holy Grail for doctors.
Now, Dr Amar Nijagal and colleagues at California
University have carried out a research in which they took bone
marrow cells from a pregnant mother and injected them into the
developing foetus. And, the donor cells were accepted by the
foetus` growing immune system without the need for any drugs.
The experiment, carried out on animals, is the first
time that scientists have been able to successfully transplant
a mother`s stem cells into her offspring before birth, the
`Daily Mail` reported.
"This research is really exciting because it offers
us a straightforward, elegant solution that makes foetal stem
cell transplantation a reachable goal.
"We now, for the first time, have a viable strategy
for treating congenital stem cell disorders before birth," Dr
Tippi MacKenzie of the University of California, who led the
study, was quoted as saying.
The new research, published in the `Journal of
Clinical Investigation`, found that a mother`s immune response
prevents foetuses from accepting donor blood stem cells.
Up to 10 per cent of the foetus` blood cells came from
the mother, it showed. When the researchers transplanted stem
cells from the mother, the foetus accepted them.
"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. Transplanting stem cells harvested from the mother
makes sense because the mother and her developing fetus are
prewired to tolerate each other," said Dr Nijagal.
The scientists now plan to see if the transplanted
stem cells work in babies.
Many genetic diseases can be diagnosed in the first 12
weeks of pregnancy. And, according to the scientists, if the
treatment is successful in humans, the implanted cells could
replenish the baby`s supply of blood-forming cells.