Researchers have treated a child with a severe genetic disorder before she was even born, the New York Times reports.
Elianna Constantino inherited alpha thalassemia major from her parents, both of who were healthy carriers of the disease, the Times adds. It notes that, typically, pregnancies with a fetus with the condition end in miscarriage, as it leads to severe anemia, followed by heart failure and brain damage, and that those that do make it to birth often have brain damage due to the lack of oxygen.
But as the Times reports, an experimental treatment of blood transfusions and a bone marrow transplant, all while in utero, by a team at the University of California, San Francisco appears to have kept Elianna healthy through birth. It notes, though, that the effect of the bone marrow transplant isn't yet clear and she still needs regular blood transfusions. Still, it adds that her treatment indicates that the approach is safe.
"I'm thrilled that it was safe and it was feasible," UCSF's Tippi MacKenzie tells the Times. She adds that it also will help "to get the message out that fetal transfusions for alpha thalassemia are lifesaving."