Clinical Seminar: Using imaging to develop and deliver prenatal therapies
Abstract: Prenatal diagnosis and fetal imaging has made great strides in identifying complicated pregnancies. We can now screen for fetal chromosomal anomalies with unprecedented accuracy using ultrasound and maternal blood. Using ultrasound and MRI we can detect major fetal structural anomalies before birth allowing families to ready themselves for the arrival of their child and to consult with a multidisciplinary team about postnatal treatment. We can monitor fetal growth and wellbeing to decide when would be the best time to deliver the fetus. There has been less progress however in the area of fetal therapy. Fetal blood transfusion to treat anaemia revolutionised the care of women who had Rh blood group alloimmunisation in the 1990s. Fetoscopic laser treatment of placental anastomoses transformed the care of identical twin pregnancies in 2000s. Stem cell and gene therapies are now in development to treat obstetric and fetal congenital disease. Stem cell transplantation and gene therapies are becoming available to treat complicated pregnancies, and new imaging techniques to guide therapeutic delivery will be required to make this revolution in treatment happen.
Speaker Biography: Anna David is Reader/Associate Professor and Honorary Consultant in Obstetrics and Maternal Fetal Medicine at Institute for Women’s Health, University College London (UCL), London. She qualified from St Andrew’s University in Scotland and Manchester University in England, and did speciality training in obstetrics and gynaecology in London. At University College London (UCL) Anna completed her PhD on fetal gene therapy in 2005, and then undertook subspecialty training in maternal fetal medicine at UCL Hospital. She was awarded a UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Senior Lectureship in Women’s Health in 2008, when she also became a consultant. She was promoted to Reader in 2012. She has a busy clinical practice at UCLH in fetal medicine, fetal therapy and obstetrics. Her main research is in translational medicine. She leads the Prenatal Cell and Gene Therapy Research Group at UCL Institute for Women’s Health whose aim is to develop prenatal therapies for life-threatening disorders such as congenital diseases and obstetric complications. She is also director of Magnus Growth, one of five companies within Magnus Life Science, a biotechnology company that is taking to market a therapy to treat fetal growth restriction, a common obstetric complication.