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New research shows versatility of amniotic fluid stem cells
Date:11/23/2009

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. For the first time, scientists have demonstrated that stem cells found in amniotic fluid meet an important test of potential to become specialized cell types, which suggests they may be useful for treating a wider array of diseases and conditions than scientists originally thought.

Reporting in Oncogene, a publication of Nature Publishing Group, the research teams of Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and Markus Hengstchlger, Ph.D., from the Medical University of Vienna, have shown that these amnion stem cells can form three-dimensional aggregates of cells known as embryoid bodies (EBs). It is believed that cells at this stage of development can be directed to become virtually any cell in the human body.

"This finding suggests that the amnion cells have greater potential than we originally thought and may be able to form many cell types," said Atala. "This could expand the number for diseases and conditions that they may be helpful for."

Atala's team is currently evaluating the cells for their potential to treat diabetes and kidney disease. They were the first to report success (Nature Biotechnology, Jan. 2007) in isolating stem cells from placenta and amniotic fluid, which surrounds the developing fetus. The current research is one of several projects designed to determine the potential of this new type of stem cell.

For the study, scientists generated two additional lines of stem cells from amniotic fluid using the same protocol developed by Atala's lab. They then investigated the incidence of EB formation in all three lines.

"Performing many independent experiments using different approaches, we demonstrate in the report that human amnion stem cells can indeed form embryoid bodies," write the researchers in Oncogene. "Amnion cells are on the way to become an important source for both basic science and regenerative medicine."


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Contact: Karen Richardson
krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu
336-716-4453
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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