Toddler cured of rare disease by stem cell treatment

A two-year-old boy has been cured of a rare auto-immune disease after doctors used some of his father’s adult stem cells in a breakthrough treatment.

Alex Montresor had haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), which weakens sufferers’ immune system by depriving it of protein needed to combat bacteria and viruses.

He was given only weeks to live by doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London late last year, but was offered new treatment options in Italy.

‘Enormous achievement’

Doctors in Rome used specially-treated stem cells from his father Paolo’s blood to replace white blood cells which were affected by Alex’s disease.

Franco Locatelli, who helped develop the treatment, said: “We can say that Alex is completely cured and that his immune system is now healthy.

“The donor’s cells have completely replaced the sick ones, which would not have allowed Alex to survive. It’s an enormous achievement for the type of transplant.”

He added that Alex, who is the seventh child to benefit from the treatment at the hospital, was now “ready to resume the life that all children of his age should have”.


Adult stem cells are increasingly being used in remarkable new treatments.

Last November, it was revealed that researchers in Colombia had successfully trialled a treatment for regrowing bone and soft tissue in children born with cleft palates.

Also in 2018, scientists were able to use adult stem cells, seaweed and 3D printers to create corneas.