Prenatal treatment has many advantages over routine postnatal care as it may prevent irreversible brain or organ injury or even prevent the loss of the fetus as a result of disease progression. With a number of these conditions such as spinal bifida, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, or twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, an anatomic problem with the potential to cause further damage may be corrected or mitigated before birth through fetal surgery. Both the Lim lab and Peiro lab study the development of these diseases and work to develop innovative fetal surgical techniques to improve their outcome. Research in this area has led to design of effective fetal operations that are frequently quite different from the standard approaches that are used after birth. Alternatively, with the diagnosis of other diseases such as sickle cell disease, thalassemia, immune deficiency or metabolic disease, the prenatal treatment may include a cellular transplant to the fetus. Because the fetal immune system is immature, prenatal transplantation to the fetus may be done without radiation or chemotherapy thereby greatly reducing the risks associated with this therapy. The Shaaban lab studies all aspects of prenatal transplantation and has a special interest in the development of the fetal immune system. Furthermore, the origin of lifelong disease may reside in the abnormal development of the placenta. With this understanding, the Habli Lab and the Jones lab are examining therapies to correct or compensate for abnormal placental development in order to improve newborn survival and have an enormous impact on development of numerous chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
To learn more about the research we do in the Center for Fetal Cellular and Molecular Therapy, visit our faculty research labs.