Atul Malhotra, MD, PhD, on the Importance of Preclinical Work for Bringing Cell Therapies to Clinic


The head of the early neurodevelopment clinic at Monash Children's Hospital discussed preclinical work in the context of neonatal cell therapy research.

“Neonatology as a profession has been trying to improve the care of these [preterm] infants so they have less complications down the line. We are doing better in some aspects, but still continue to have a significant burden of disease when it comes to lung and brain complications. Cell therapy is an opportunity for us to improve those outcomes further. [We], and a number of groups around the world, have been trying to discover and then translate these cell therapies into human babies.”

In October 2022, Atul Malhotra, MD, PhD, the head of the early neurodevelopment clinic at Monash Children's Hospital, wrote an article for CGTLive® about the current state of research in the field of neonatal cell therapy.1 The article covered the work of the Newborn Cell Therapies Group at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, a group of clinicians, scientists, research staff, and students focused on investigating the potential of cell therapy approaches to address complications related to preterm and high-risk birth. Naturally, preclinical work is a critical part of this research and is required before novel cell therapy products can be brought to clinical trials. As such, translation of preclinical findings into the clinic is an area of interest for the group.

With well over a year having passed since the publication of the original article, CGTLive reached out to Malhotra to check in on the current state of the group’s work and to get his perspective on the role of their research. In the interview, Malhotra first discussed the difference between stem cells and cell therapy in general. Afterwards, he spoke about unmet needs in the treatment of complications related to premature births and how cell therapy may help to address these unmet needs. Malhotra emphasized that since the publication of his article in 2022, substantial activity and advancements have continued to take place on both the preclinical and clinical sides of research in this field. He then summarized major considerations for the preclinical side as they relate to pushing the field forward.

Click here for information about the 2024 Neonatal Cell Therapies Symposium.

1. Lions Foundation provides support to neonatal cell therapy research. News release. Monash Unviersity. August 25, 2022.
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