Despite progress made in neonatal intensive care, complications of extreme preterm birth still contribute as the main cause of death to children below 5 years of age. Stem cell-based therapies—mesenchymal stromal cells in particular—offer a new hope in preventing and/or restoring organ damage in extreme preterm infants. Early phase clinical trials, fueled by promising preclinical studies on lung and brain injury, have begun. While the enthusiasm in the neonatal community is palpable, much more needs to be learnt about cell-based therapies. Maintaining the balance between temptation and a cautious, evidence-based approach will be critical for cell therapies to fulfil their promise in substantially improving the outcome of extreme preterm infants.
- stem cells
- regenerative medicine
- preterm birth
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Funding This work is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine (OIRM) and the Canadian Stem Cell Network (SCN).
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.