Mesenchymal stem cells trial may repair brain damage in babies

Written by Alexander Marshall

A new trial will test whether mesenchymal stem cells are able to repair brain damage in babies with congenital heart disease.

A novel clinical trial, organized at the Children’s National Hospital (WA, USA), will investigate whether mesenchymal stem cells can be used to repair brain damage in neonatal children with congenital heart disease. The process hopes to demonstrate that allogenic mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), obtained from bone marrow, can encourage the growth and regeneration of neuronal and glial cells in patients at risk of delayed neural development.

The project, headed by Richard Jonas, Catherine Bollard and Nobuyuki Ishibashi (all Children’s National Hospital) will last 3 years and hopes to optimize brain development in patients. Neurodevelopment within patients of congenital heart disease can often be delayed due to a variety of factors including the impact on oxygenated blood flow and genetic factors.

Within the Children’s National Hospital — the Center for Cancer and Immunology Research, the Center for Neuroscience Research and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation — will all collaborate with the Children’s National Heart Institute to transplant MSCs as part of the necessary cardiopulmonary bypass surgery that must be performed on the patients.

         NIH supported studies in our laboratory have shown that MSC therapy may be extremely helpful in improving brain development in animal models after cardiac surgery,” explained Ishibashi. “MSC infusion can help reduce inflammation including prolonged microglia activation that can occur during surgery that involves the heart lung machine.”

The trial was awarded a US$2.5 million grant by the National Institute of Health (WA, USA) earlier in the year to test the hypothesis and has three key goals: to determine the safety and feasibility of the process, impact of the infusion on the neurodevelopment of the patient and determine whether there are post-operative inflammation issues with the procedure.

If successful, the researchers hope the trial will be able to advance to Phase II and eventually lesson the burden upon individuals with congenital heart disease. 


Have any additional questions about this story? Ask us in the comments, below.

Find out more in these top picks from the Editor: