The first clinical trial involving the injection of stem cells into babies whilst in the womb is scheduled to begin in January. This trial is supervised jointly by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and Great Ormond Street Hospital in the United Kingdom.
The aim is to assess whether the in-utero injection of embryo stem cells into foetuses suffering from brittle bone disease could alleviate the symptoms of this condition. The stem cells are taken from aborted or miscarried embryos.
Brittle bone disease manifests as a lack of collagen or poor quality collagen in patients. Collagen gives structure to bone. People suffering from this condition can have more than fifteen or so fractures every year. They are more prone to hearing and growth disorders.
For Professor Lyn Chitty at Great Ormond Street Hospital, who will supervise the research and genetic tests carried out in this trial, the “aim is to establish whether, in utero, stem cell therapy can provide better outcomes for children and [reduce] the number of fractures”. Doctor Cecilia Gotherstrom from the Karolinska Institute announced that “the trial should have a significant impact if we manage to reduce the frequency of the fractures, strengthen the bones and improve the growth [of these patients]”.