The study, funded by Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, investigated a new way to treat necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), where severe inflammation destroys tissues in the gut. NEC is the most common gastrointestinal surgical emergency in newborn babies, with mortality rates of around 15 to 30 per cent in the UK.
While breast milk and probiotics can help to reduce the incidence of the disease, no medical treatments are currently available other than surgery once NEC sets in. Surgical removal of the dead tissue shortens the bowel and can lead to intestinal failure, with some babies eventually needing ongoing parenteral nutrition (feeding via an intravenous line) or an intestinal transplant.
In the study, led by the UCL Institute of Child Health, amniotic fluid stem (AFS) cells were harvested from rodent amniotic fluid and given to rats with NEC. Other rats with the same condition were given bone marrow stem cells taken from their femurs, or fed as normal with no treatment, to compare the clinical outcomes of different treatments.
NEC-affected rats injected with AFS cells showed significantly higher survival rates a week after being treated, compared to the other two groups. Inspection of their intestines, including with micro magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), showed the inflammation to be significantly reduced, with fewer dead cells, greater self-renewal of the gut tissue and better overall intestinal function.
While bone marrow stem cells have been known to help reverse colonic damage in irritable bowel disease by regenerating tissue, the beneficial effects from stem cell therapy in NEC appear to work via a different mechanism. Following their injection into the gut, the AFS cells moved into the intestinal villi - the small, finger-like projections that protrude from the lining of the intestinal wall and pass nutrients from the intestine into the blood. However, rather than directly repairing the damaged tissue, the AFS cells appear to have released specific growth factors that acted on progenitor cells in the gut which in turn, reduced the inflammation and triggered the formation of new villi and other tissues.
Dr Paolo De Coppi, UCL Institute of Child Health, who led the study, says: "Stem cells are well known to have anti-inflammatory effects, but this is the first time we have shown that amniotic fluid stem cells can repair damage in the intestines. In the future, we hope that stem cells found in amniotic fluid will be used more widely in therapies and in research, particularly for the treatment of congenital malformations. Although amniotic fluid stem cells have a more limited capacity to develop into different cell types than those from the embryo, they nevertheless show promise for many parts of the body including the liver, muscle and nervous system."
Dr Simon Eaton, UCL Institute of Child Health and co-author of the study, adds: "Once we have a better understanding of the mechanisms by which AFS cells trigger repair and restore function in the gut, we can start to explore new cellular or pharmacological therapies for infants with necrotizing enterocolitis."
Notes to editors
For further information, please contact Jenny Gimpel at the GOSH-ICH press office on + 44 (0)20 7239 3043 or email@example.com.
'Amniotic fluid stem cells improve survival and enhance repair of damaged intestine in NEC via a COX-2 dependent mechanism' by Zani et al, is published on Monday 25 March 2013 in the journal Gut. To obtain a copy of the paper, please contact Jenny Gimpel at the GOSH-ICH press office.
The study was funded by Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, with support from the Fondazione Citta della Speranza.
Jenny Gimpel | EurekAlert!
Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY
NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences