Current research in this area by scientists in The Ritchie Centre is focused on the wellbeing of mother and child, with a particular interest in pulmonary distress. Regenerative medicine is a relatively new field of medicine, which aims to help natural healing processes work faster, or use special materials to replace damaged tissue.
Recently, human amnion epithelial cells (hAEC) have attracted a lot of attention as a potential cell source for regenerative therapies. Amnion-derived cells have the considerable advantage in that they do not require the destruction of human embryos for isolation, as the amnion is usually discarded as medical waste along with the placenta following birth.
We have been investigating the potential therapeutic benefits of hAEC in reducing lung inflammation and fibrosis in models of adult respiratory diseases and in bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) of the newborn. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia is a life-threatening chronic lung disease that affects many infants born preterm and, particularly, very preterm. Lung inflammation likely underlies the pathogenesis of BPD. The team is identifying the effect of hAECs on inflammatory responses of the preterm newborn and clinical trials on the use of hAECs in the treatment of lung injury in very premature babies are about to commence.