Cleft palate is a condition characterized by an opening in the skull where the nose and mouth meet that occurs when the tissue doesn’t fuse together during development in the womb. A cleft palate often includes a split (cleft) in the upper lip (cleft lip) but can occur without affecting the lip.
To treat these patients, doctors and researchers are using stem cells taken from the umbilical cord’s blood to create a treatment that can reduce the amount of operations needed by babies with this condition.
Researchers at Hospital de San José, Bogota (Colombia), tested the new surgery on nine children during the last ten years. The operations gave good results in attempts to grow a bone again from scratch and thus repair the clefts.
The team of researchers feel encouraged to see the regenerative power of stem cells. In this way, doctors could incorporate them into surgical techniques and thus obtain better results in patients with cleft palate.
In one study, the team reported that at the age of five, and after having been operated as a baby, a girl who had a cleft palate regenerated bone and had a good thickness in her jaw. The little girl was diagnosed with a missing section of the bone on an ultrasound while she was still in her mother’s womb. She was missing a bone in the upper jaw, where the teeth had to grow.
After her birth and almost immediately, doctors remodelled the soft tissues of the girl’s jaw, using a device similar to the retainer recommended by dentists.
When she was five months old, the little girl underwent routine surgery to correct the cleft lip; specifically to correct the shape of the skin and flesh of the upper lip. At the same time, stem cells extracted from umbilical cord blood were injected into the area where bone was missing.
The operation was a complete success and the girl developed normal teeth and new bone in the jaw. This achievement meant that the little girl did no longer need surgeries in the future and also avoided the removal of bones from other parts of her body to graft into her mouth.
Due to the good results and the interest that this discovery implies for the treatment of cleft palate and other congenital diseases or defects, stem cell treatments will continue to be studied.
Source: Agencia ID