In utero skin grafts use stem cells to treat neural tube defects


A new treatment may be at hand for life-threatening neural tube defects.


Three-dimensional cultured skin derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells.
Three-dimensional cultured skin derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells.
Kazuhiro Kajiwara

Lab generated skin grafts might soon be used to repair life-threatening neural tube defects in infants.

Myelomenigocele is a severe neural tube defect that results in spinal bone malformation and exposure of the spinal nerves and cord. It is associated with brain damage and other maladies. Although treatments exist they are invasive and complicated.

Akihiro Umezawa of Japan’s National Research Institute for Child Health and Development has developed a “fetal cell treatment (that) is minimally invasive”. Umezawa has generated multi-layered skin grafts from skin cells that have been transformed into pluripotent stem cells and applied them to defected areas. These grafts have partially repaired damage in fetal rats, but more research is required.

The research is published in Stem Cell Reports.


  1. http://www.cell.com/stem-cell-reports/abstract/S2213-6711(17)30220-5
  2. http://www.cell.com/stem-cell-reports/abstract/S2213-6711(17)30220-5
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