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Scientists make strides toward fixing infant hearts
Date:2/6/2012

pericardium, the membrane that surrounds the heart. Pericardium generally forms scar tissue and can only be used in the first operation. Both solutions require further operations and raise the risk of cardiac arrest, Jacot said.

Stem cells, the focus of both great hope and great controversy, are the cells in every organism that differentiate into specialized cells in the body. Stem cells drawn from human embryos are known to have great potential for treatment of defects and disease, but research into their use has been limited by political and other concerns, Jacot said.

That isn't the case with cells found in amniotic fluid, he said. Amniotic fluid is the liquid that protects and nourishes a fetus in the womb. Fluid is sometimes taken from pregnant women through amniocentesis, but cells for the Jacot lab's studies were drawn from women undergoing treatment for twin-twin transfusion syndrome. "This is where two identical twins share a placenta and one is getting more blood than the other. It's not common," he said, noting that Texas Children's is one of the few hospitals that treat the syndrome. "Part of the general treatment is to remove fluid with the goal of saving both lives, and that fluid is usually discarded."

Jacot said other labs have tested amniotic fluid as a source of stem cells with promising results. "Our work is based on five years of work from other labs in which they've discovered a very small population of amniotic stem cells maybe one in every 10,000 that naturally express markers characteristic of embryonic and mesenchymal stem cells."

Jacot and his team created a population of amniotic stem cells through a complex process that involved extracting cells via centrifugation and fluorescence-activated sorting. They sequestered cells with a surface receptor, c-kit, a marker associated with stem cells.

The cells were cultured in endothelial growth media to make them suitable for growing into a network of
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Contact: David Ruth
david@rice.edu
713-348-6327
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert  

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Scientists make strides toward fixing infant hearts
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