WINSTON-SALEM, NC – April 27, 2021 — An intestinal bowel disease that affects up to 10 percent of premature infants at a very vulnerable and developmentally crucial time can lead to serious infection and death. Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) are tackling the disease with a human placental-derived stem cell (hPSC) therapy strategy that is showing promising results.

Necrotizing enterocolitis is a life-threatening intestinal disease that is a leading cause of mortality in premature infants and treatment options remain elusive. The cause of the disease is unclear – it is a multi-faceted disease that results from the complex interaction of early bacterial colonization, an exaggerated inflammatory response, and immature intestinal tissue. It occurs when the wall of the intestine is invaded by bacteria which cause infection and inflammation. Developing treatment approaches for this disease would improve both the survival outcomes and the health of these children who have their entire lifetime to protect.

Based on recent cell therapy studies, WFIRM scientists investigated the effect of a human placental-derived stem cell therapy on intestinal damage in a pre-clinical animal model. In 2007, WFIRM scientists were the first to identify and characterize stem cells derived from amniotic fluid and placenta. Stem cells offer great promise for new medical treatments to treat disease and injury.

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https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-04/wfbm-sct042721.php