Researchers are doing amazing things in the field of stem cell research and the latest research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine working in conjunction with shows some of the best potential yet. The research team has discovered an entirely new source for stem cells. So far they have only tested them in the laboratory, but so far they have been able to use them to create muscle, bone, fat, blood vessel, nerve and liver cells. The new source is amniotic fluid. They obtained the fluid from fluid taken from amniocentesis,
Researchers will never let a question go unanswered and for years they knew that there were progenitor cells, cells that produce stem cells, in the placenta as well as in the amniotic fluid and the question that the researcher wanted asked was if it would be able to find true stem cells within the progenitor cells. They were pleased to find out that the answer was yes.
Only a very small number of the cells that they found could actually develop into cells. They named this new stem cells amniotic fluid-derived stem (AFS) cells. They believe that these new cells could be not embryonic stem cells and not adult stem cells, but cells that are somewhere in between the two. They have sound evidence for this belief because the new cells have markers that are found in both types.
They are looking into the future when they will have a stem cell bank with 100,000 specimens that could in theory be able to supply almost 100% of the U.S. population with perfect genetic matches for transplantation to treat such diseases as spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke.
Not only are the AFS cells easy to obtain, but they can be grown and harvested in large numbers due to the fact that they can double themselves in a period of about 36 hours. They do not need any aid from any other cells, and they do not produce tumors, a problem that has come up with other types of stem cells.
So far, the researchers have been able to produce every type of cell that they have attempted to produce. And there is more to do in order to determine exactly what the full range of possibilities these cells have.
The tests so far have included the implanting of neural -nervous system- cells that were created from the AFS cells into mice. All of the mice had a degenerative brain disease.
The results showed that the new cells were able to grow and re populate themselves in the diseased areas of the brains. They were also able to gather bone cells from the AFS cells and with these they were able to produce bony tissues in the mice. They were also able to produce liver cells that were able to function like a normal liver.
The lead researcher is Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. The Co-researchers on the team are Paolo De Coppi, M.D., Georg Bartsch Jr., M.D., M. Minhaj Siddiqui, M.D., Tao Xu, Ph.D., Cesar C. Santos, M.D., Laura Perin, Ph.D., James J. Yoo, M.D., Ph.D., Mark E. Furth, Ph.D., and Shay Soker, Ph.D., all with Wake Forest University, and Gustavo Mostoslavsky, Ph.D., Evan Y. Snyder M.D., and Angéline C. Serre, all with Harvard Medical School.
Source: Wake Forest University School of Medicine http://www1.wfubmc.edu/