Hope for 1,500 families per year and man's best friend?
by Lisa Fritzky, on Feb 15, 2019 11:39:07 AM
Researchers Aijun Wang and Diana Farmer from the University of California Davis were recently granted $5.66 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) for their development of a stem cell therapy to treat the devastating birth defect, spina bifida, which impacts 1,500 children in the United States every year. Interestingly enough, spina bifida is also a common birth defect in English bulldogs, and the therapy has already been successfully applied to puppies who are now experiencing an improved quality of life.
What is spina bifida?
Spina bifida is a devastating birth defect that results in a variety of health problems. Children born with this condition have difficulty walking and brain and central nervous system disabilities. Spina bifida is caused by a spinal cord not fully forming in the womb, which leaves delicate tissues and nerves vulnerable and exposed when a baby is born. Currently, surgery is the only treatment to alleviate complications, but it’s not completely effective. About 60% of patients who have surgery still won’t be able to walk properly.
Hope for families - and dog lovers
As stated in the article, $5.66 million CIRM grant strengthens researchers’ spina bifida work, “the results in bulldogs have been encouraging, with stem-cell-treated puppies able to frolic and engage with their littermates. They’re experiencing improved qualities of life and health that were unforeseen just a few years ago. ‘These dogs have greatly helped us understand how to help human patients, too - the more we do, the more we understand,’ said Wang.”
With promising outcomes during the early stages of research, and the addition of the $5.66 million grant from CIRM, Wang and Farmer plan to take their therapy to clinical trials in the near future.
Stay tuned for more updates, and click here to access the full article.
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