Cord Blood Stem Cell Transplant Corrects Irritable Bowel Disease

A baby girl, Zhao Jiaxin, has become the first child in China to receive a cord blood stem cell transplant to cure an inherited type of irritable bowel disease.

When Zhao was born in 2015, she started suffering from fever and diarrhoea from just 8 days old. Her older sister had the same symptoms and tragically died at 5 months old, so her parents feared they might lose Zhao too. So, they turned to the Children’s Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai.

At the university, the family found out that Zhao had a very early onset form of irritable bowel disease (VEO-IBS); a rare condition caused by an inherited genetic mutation. The deficiency in the defective gene led to severe problems with Zhao’s immune system, which caused malnourishment, intestinal abscesses and fistulas.

The only effective treatment is a stem cell transplant… It can help to repair the genetic deformity and control the symptoms of the disease

– Huang Ying, MD PhD, Children’s Hospital of Fudan University

In 2015, Zhao became one of very few babies to receive a cord blood stem cell transplant for VEO-IBS with IL10RA immune deficiency. The successful transplants were carried out using low-intensity chemotherapy conditioning, with positive results within 1-3 months. Thanks to this pioneering transplant, Zhao’s condition has improved greatly and she should lead a happy, healthy life.