World First: How The Placenta Can Save Your Baby's Life

“This first step is a very important breakthrough for us.”

A groundbreaking discovery by Australian researchers could save thousands of babies from life-threatening lung disease.

And the answer lies in a placenta.

In Australia, 1,000 premature babies develop chronic lung disease every year.

“These babies still have their own lung stem cells, they've just been impaired by all the life-saving interventions needed while they’re in neonatal care,” says Hudson Institute researcher Dr Rebecca Lim.

But researchers have discovered cells found in a healthy placenta had the potential to stop that happening.

“It actually kick-starts the lung stem cells again and overcomes that deficit,” says Dr Lim.

Doctors at Monash have undertaken a world-first trial, giving six premature babies this stem cell therapy, with nothing but positive results.

“All babies showed a good response and most importantly, a safe response to the cells which were administered to them.,” says neonatologist Dr Atul Malhotra.

“This first step is a very important breakthrough for us.”

Doctors will now begin the second phase of the trial, which will see even younger babies given higher doses of the cells.

They believe if they can administer the cells before the babies show signs of lung disease, they may be able to stop the condition developing at all.