Babies with congenital defects may soon have stem cell treatments waiting for them the moment they're born, New Scientist reports. Pending FDA approval, researchers say they're ready to extract cells from a mother's amniotic fluid, grow needed "spare parts," and patch up the baby when it pops out. "We're just waiting for the green light," says team leader Dario Fauza.
Researchers have already done it on sheep and rabbits, repairing defects in the sternum, chest wall, diaphragm, and other areas. These stem cell grafts outperformed today's most common procedure—Teflon patches—which can detach more easily and lead to multiple operations. Other researchers in the field say they're rooting for Fauza: He "has been doing a lot ... and his work is fantastic," says a London stem cell expert.