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Prenatal transplantation of human amniotic fluid stem cells for spinal muscular atrophy

Peng, Shao-Yua; Shaw, Sheng-Wen, S.b,c,d

Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology: April 2018 - Volume 30 - Issue 2 - p 111–115
doi: 10.1097/GCO.0000000000000444
PRENATAL DIAGNOSIS: Edited by Jane Chueh

Purpose of review To review the current medical and stem-cell therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and prenatal transplantation of amniotic fluid stem cells in the future.

Recent findings SMA is an autosomal recessive inheritance of neurodegenerative disease, which is caused of the mutation in survival motor neuron. The severe-type SMA patients usually die from the respiratory failure within 2 years after birth. Recently, researchers had found that 3-methyladenine could inhibit the autophagy and had the capacity to reduce death of the neurons. The first food and drug administration-approved drug to treat SMA, Nusinersen, is a modified antisense oligonucleotide to target intronic splicing silencer N1 just recently launched. Not only medical therapy, but also stem cells including neural stem cells, embryonic stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells could show the potential to repair the injured tissue and differentiate into neuron cells to rescue the SMA animal models. Human amniotic fluid stem cells (HAFSCs) share the potential of mesenchymal stem cells and could differentiate into tri-lineage-relative cells, which are also having the ability to restore the injured neuro-muscular function. In this review, we further demonstrate the therapeutic effect of using HAFSCs to treat type III SMA prenatally. HAFSCs, similar to other stem cells, could also help the improvement of SMA with even longer survival.

Summary The concept of prenatal stem-cell therapy preserves the time window to treat disease in utero with much less cell number. Stem cell alone might not be enough to correct or cure the SMA but could be applied as the additional therapy combined with antisense oligonucleotide in the future.

aDepartment of Animal Science, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, Pingtung

bCollege of Medicine, Chang Gung University, Taoyuan

cDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Taipei Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

dPrenatal Cell and Gene Therapy Group, Institute for Women's Health, University College London, London, UK

Correspondence to Sheng-Wen S. Shaw, MD, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Taipei Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, No. 199, Dun-Hua North Road, Taipei 105, Taiwan. Tel: +886 3 3281200x8251; fax: +886 3 3288252; e-mail:

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