Another Non-Controversial Source of Stem Cells Identified

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Tissue engineer Anthony Atala, director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. is reporting that his team has found stem cells in amniotic fluid. The Wake Forest researchers have used the amniotic stem cells to create muscle, bone, fat, blood vessel, nerve and liver cells in the laboratory. The cells seem to be more stable than stem cells derived from embryos. Atala suggests that amniotic stem cells banked from 100,000 specimens would theoretically be enough to supply 99 percent of the U.S. population with perfect genetic matches for transplantation.

Stem cells taken from discarded umbilical cords have been used to treat diseases such as leukemia. Researchers at the University of Kansas isolated stem cells from the matrix that surrounds umbilical cords a couple of years ago and have used them to successfully treat rats with a version of Parkinson's disease.

Researchers hasten to say that the discovery does not mean that embryonic stem cells are irrelevant.

Reports the Washington Post:

"There's not going to be one shoe that fits all," said Robert Lanza, scientific director at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Mass. "We're going to have to see which ones are most useful for which clinical conditions."

George Daley, a Harvard stem cell researcher, echoed that sentiment. "They are not a replacement for embryonic stem cells," he said.

The Democrats intend to pass legislation that would lift President Bush's restrictions on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research during its vaunted 100 hours campaign. This action would mostly be symbolic at this point, since private and state funding of stem cell research has exploded in the last couple of years.

NEXT: GOP Sens No-Go on Surge?

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  1. You put pressure on science to find a non-controversial source of stem cells and lo and behold, science finds a non-controversial source of stem cells. I like how that works.

    Look like those meddling bio-ethicists indirectly did some good, and now we can all proceed into the future on a more harmonious basis than b4.

  2. GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

    Korn syrup!

    Srsly:
    “There’s not going to be one shoe that fits all”

    A wise statement that should be remembered more often!

  3. But I thought that if the feds don’t heavily finance embryonic stem cell research, they’ll be responsible for the deaths of untold numbers of people? Now you’re saying that research using other types of stem cells has already produced results, even as privately-, state-, and internationally-funded embryonic stem cell research has been fruitless?

  4. Does this mean Christopher Reeve can walk again!?!

  5. Are you sure amniotic fluid really is a non-controversial source of stem cells?

  6. Current regulations make it burdensome to conduct otherwise-funded hESC research in the same department as any federally-funded research. They’ve driven away (to other countries) projects, investigators, and funding that otherwise would be here. We might wish it were otherwise, but NIH funds a bit under half the health research in the US. Like hell lifting the hESC restrictions is “mostly symbolic”.

    Now you’re saying that research using other types of stem cells has already produced results, even as privately-, state-, and internationally-funded embryonic stem cell research has been fruitless?

    We’ve been studying some kinds of adult SCs for much longer than ESCs; it’s no surprise they’ve been the first to produce clinically useful therapies. The big problem with ESCs is that they’re too fruitful; we have difficulty making them stop multiplying when we want. That’s called cancer. Even if we had viable ASC therapies for every other human disorder, insight into cancer would be reason enough for ESC research.

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