Monday, January 08, 2007

New Source of Stem Cells

Good news, looks like there is another alternative source of stem cells, bad news, it may be some years before it's a viable source. That may not be too bad due to most stem cell research is likely not to produce any solutions for some time. The problem though is that the delay of new research will be a delay for any solution.
Scientists say they have discovered a plentiful source of stem cells in amniotic fluid, which would allow researchers to sidestep the controversy over destroying embryos.

Researchers claim amniotic fluid stem cells could be used in the same way as embryonic stem cells, which have the potential to turn into a variety of other tissue types and offer hope to sufferers of some incurable or degenerative diseases.

A team from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina working in cooperation with Harvard University scientists said they were able to extract stem cells from the fluid that cushions babies in the womb without damage to the mother or the foetus.

But the scientists say that even preliminary tests in the use of amniotic stem cells in humans may be years away.

“Our hope is that these cells will provide a valuable resource for tissue repair and for engineered organs as well,” said Dr. Anthony Atala, head of Wake Forest’s regenerative medicine institute and senior researcher on the project.

The team, whose findings are reported in the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology, took seven years to determine that the cells they found were actual stem cells which could be valuable for therapy.

Any treatment developed from the cells would be of particular benefit to the child from whose mother they were taken, for whom they are an exact tissue match.

At least there is another alternative that can go past some of the ethical problems that are being seen in politics. That should at least move some funding forward from the government. Though I'm betting that we'll be seeing the fight over embryonic stem cell research shortly as the Dems have promised to push more funding.

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