30 enero 2007


A team of researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Harvard University School of Medicine recently published a report on a new development in the ever growing field of stem cell investigation. This study reported on the group’s research on stem cells isolated from amniotic fluid. It was found that these “amniotic fluid-derived stem” (AFS) had the ability to transform into many different tissue types found in the body.

“We’ve shown the cells can grow into nerve, blood vessels, liver cells, cartilage, bone and cardiac muscle,” says Anthony Atala, head of the team of 80 physicians and researchers which isolated and tested the cells at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, US.

Anthony Atala, M.D., is Professor and Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine; he is a surgeon in the area of pediatric urology and a researcher in the area of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. His current work focuses on growing new human cells, tissues and organs (including kidney, blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, bladder, pancreas, and others) to repair or replace tissues or organs damaged by age, cancer, trauma, or abnormal development.

Dr. Atala is an Editor for several journals, including the Journal of Rejuvenation Research, The Scientific World: Tissue Engineering, Stem Cell Therapy, Regenerative Medicine, and Stem Cells and Development. He also serves as editor of the Investigative Urology section for the Journal of Urology, Urology, Current Opinion in Urology, Current Reviews in Urology, and the Journal of Laparoendoscopic and Advanced Surgical Techniques: Endosurgery and Innovative Techniques, The Scientific World: Cell Biology and is on the Editorial Board for Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy. He is the editor of 6 books, has published more than 200 journal articles or book chapters, more than 250 abstracts, and has applied for or received over 150 national and international patents.

“Our hope is that these cells will provide a valuable resource for tissue repair and for engineered organs as well,” said Anthony Atala. “It has been known for decades that both the placenta and amniotic fluid contain multiple progenitor cell types from the developing embryo, including fat, bone, and muscle,” said Atala. “We asked the question, ‘Is there a possibility that within this cell population we can capture true stem cells?’ The answer is yes.” The results reported represent a breakthrough in stem cell investigation.

AFS can be collected via amniocentesis, which involves sticking a needle into the amniotic sac and removing fluid. Even more encouraging is the finding that this type of stem cells can also be recovered from the placenta at the time of delivery, thus forgoing the risk of an invasive procedure to obtain the cells.

Atala and colleagues discovered a small number of stem cells
–estimated at 1 percent–
in amniotic fluid, that can give rise to many of the specialized cell types found in the human body. In addition to being easily obtainable, the AFS cells can be grown in large quantities because they typically double every 36 hours.

In actuality, most of the tissue types in the body have been produced with the use of adult stem cells. To date, essentially every significant therapeutic success in this arena has been with adult stem cells.

With AFS there now appears to be another option. These cells are more mature than embryonic stem cells; this degree of maturity may account for another advantage of AFS. These cells do not appear to present the risk of developing tumors. The growth of embryonic stem cells (ESC) is erratic and uncontrollable to the extent that they will form tumor cells. AFS have not shown any predisposition toward malignant transformation. Obviously this is a major advantage for AFS.

AFS appear to be very easy to work with in the laboratory. They seem to grow well and have a long life span, reportedly significantly longer than adult stem cells in culture.

Other researchers welcomed the discovery. "If the cells can be extracted from the placenta, it's a very convenient way of getting large numbers of cell lines that repair all types of cells," says Ian Wilmut, one of Britain's leading stem cell expert.

While we will need much more investigation into this area, work with AFS appears to be very promising at present. The ability to easily collect and isolate viable stem cell populations is a giant step forward. Knowledge that these cells have the ability to transform into so many tissue types is welcome. The promise, if fulfilled, that this technology would be available without the destruction of human life is priceless.



Nature Biotechnology

Cell Research




Wake Forest University School of Medicine





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#363 Varios Categoria-Varios: Etica y antropología

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