Leader of this group:
PhD MD Mariann Bentsen
During the last decade, numerous animal studies have explored the reparative and regenerative effects of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) to prevent and treat neonatal complications caused by prematurity and birth asphyxia. Positive preclinical data has lately led to the first phase in clinical studies on bronchopulmonary dysplasia, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and cerebral palsy.
Our research group works to investigate the properties of perinatal stem cells found in the umbilical cord tissue (Wharton’s jelly), and to test the effect of these cells in vitro on various types of tissue damage, including a lung organoid model of bronchopulmonary dysplasia.
Our long-term goal is to use these cells as treatment for neonatal complications, especially lung- and brain damage caused by preterm birth. We compare umbilical cord stem cells from prematurely born versus healthy term born babies, to clarify whether autologous cell therapy with the prematures' own stem cells is feasible.
We are also aiming to elucidate the properties and function of perinatal stem cells during fetal development, and to examine how the cells and their secretome are affected by various pregnancy complications and reflect the intrauterine environment.
The research group works in close collaboration with the “Tissue Engineering ResearchGroup”, the “Cellular Networks Research Group”, and “Research Group for Pregnancy, Fetal Development and Birth” at the University of Bergen, as well as Mohn Research Centre for Regenerative Medicine, Haukeland University Hospital.