Fetal Biology and Therapy Research Affinity Group

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The convergence of technologies in modern medicine suggests that essentially all anatomic and genetic diseases could one day be diagnosed during gestation. Early diagnosis could lead not only to treatment in utero, but it also enables physicians to anticipate childhood and adult disease and focus on prevention. The Fetal Therapy Research Affinity Group at Children’s Hospital, investigates the possibilities for treating many disorders during fetal development, which may provide a therapeutic “window of opportunity” for treatment.

As part of its mission, the affinity group facilitates interaction between a diverse group of Children’s Hospital investigators interested in fetal biology and therapy. Investigators focus on fetal diagnosis and treatment, maternal aspects of fetal therapy, new methods of minimally invasive intervention, treatment of anatomic malformations, and fetal stem cell or gene therapy.

For example, two specific areas of research that the Fetal Therapy Research Affinity Group centers on are prenatal stem cell and gene therapy for genetic disorders and development of a support device to allow normal development of the extreme premature infant (EXTrauterine Environment for Neonatal Development - EXTEND).

In collaboration with the Hospital’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment and the Fetal Heart Program, the Fetal Therapy Affinity Group is developing techniques for the support of extreme premature infants, and researchers are also investigating stem cell and gene therapy in utero, with the clinical goal of treating sickle cell disease and other hematologic disorders.