Professor and Director for the Doctoral Program in Regenerative Medicine at Karolinska Institutet, Cecilia Göthersström currently runs the National Umbilical Cord Blood Bank in Sweden and is the main researcher at the Centre for Haematology and Regenerative Medicine. She obtained her Master’s degree in Molecular Cell Biology from Södertörns University College in Stockholm, in 2001, and her PhD at Karolinska Institutet in Solna, Sweden, in 2004, on allogeneic stem cell transplantation and transplantation research, specifically in the characterization of human fetal mesenchymal stem cells. In the same year, Professor Götherström did her first Postdoc on fetal mesenchymal stem cell fate after intrauterine transplantation at the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, at the Imperial College, in London, with Professor Nicholas M. Fisk. Between 2006 and 2010, she did her second Postdoc, this time on transplantation research on human mesenchymal stem cells at Karolinska Institutet, with Professor Katarina Le Blanc.
One of the main focus of her research is the use of stem and progenitor cells, obtained from perinatal tissues in the clinical practice, and their potential for the cure of genetic diseases. Professor Götherström has a great interest on multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) because of their multipotentiality, immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and tissue repairing effects, combined with a minimal oncogenic risk. Her investigation also focuses on the comparison of MSC from different perinatal sources and how maternal and fetal microchimerism, pregnancy and mode of delivery affect the isolated cells.
Among Professor Götherström’s several accomplishments, she’s particularly proud of the establishment of a Fetal Stem Cell Bank for clinical and research use in the Karolinska Institutet, of the Sweden’s Umbilical Cord Blood Bank at Karolinska University Hospital and of a perinatal stem cell research group. She is also the founder of the Doctoral Program in Regenerative Medicine and a mentor for five doctoral courses and nine scientific conferences in the regenerative medicine field.
She has done research on the use of perinatal MSC on clinical treatment of severe structural defects diagnosed before birth and life threatening bronchopulmonary dysplasia and necrotizing enterocolitis in premature babies.
Her most recent investigation concerns the development of prenatal MSC transplantation for osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), in an ongoing clinical trial.
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is a genetic disorder caused mainly by defects in collagen synthesis, whose clinical management is based on physical rehabilitation and lifelong orthopedic interventions, aiming to correct bony deformities, and pharmacological intervention with bisphosphonates, which has recently failed to demonstrate benefits in what concerns fracture rates or functional mobility. This lack of effectiveness in current modalities of treatment justifies the search for alternative approaches, including allogeneic MSC transplantation, which in turn has the ability to home in (meaning MSC have a great affinity for those areas) to bone itself and to regions of active remodelling, as found in patients with OI. As a disorder that occurs in fetal life and can be diagnosed before birth through amniocentesis or fetal blood sampling, it has the possibility of prenatal approach with MSC transplantation during the rapid skeletal development where spontaneous fractures can occur. Professor Götherström will further clarify how this in utero treatment can be advantageous and which conclusions were reached so far.