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Cord blood may help premmies breathe easier

The scientific journal Cell Transplantation has 2 studies that have explored umbilical cord blood stem cells for lung and heart disorders.  Both studies were conducted using animals so they are very preliminary, but they offer great potential for future treatments.

In one study, researchers investigated the therapeutic benefits of transplanting human umbilical cord blood (UCB) mensenchymal stem cells (MSC) into newborn laboratory rats with oxygen-deprived lung injury.  They found that the cells have a protective effect against hyperoxia-induced lung injury, likely due to anti-inflammatory effects.  These results might eventually lead to the discovery of treatments for hypertoxic neonatal lung disease, or bronchopulmonary dysplasia in premature human infants.

Another research team examined the potential therapeutic role of umbilical cord mononuclear cells (UCMNC) for the treatment of congenital heart defects. They found that the transplants enhanced diastolic properties, most likely through blood vessel growth.  The study found that UCMNC transplants are “feasible and safe” and seem to “positively influence the diastolic properties of the RV under chronic volume overload.”


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