The first human clinical trial using stem cells to treat spina bifida has been made possible thanks to a $9 million grant provided Nov. 12 by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord do not form properly.
The grant was awarded to Diana Farmer, MD, professor and chair of surgery at UC Davis Health in Sacramento, Calif., and Aijun Wang, PhD, associate professor of surgery and biomedical engineering at the health system.
The clinical trial will administer stem cells derived from placental tissue to babies that are still in the womb.
Researchers hope to repair the defect that occurs when the protective tissue around a baby's developing spinal cord fails to fully close before birth.
The clinical trial is set to begin in early 2021.