Amniotic fluid contains stem cells that can be coaxed towards becoming various cell types that might be useful in regenerative medicine, according to a report by Anthony Atala and colleagues in the January 2007 issue of Nature Biotechnology. Amniotic fluid-derived stem (AFS) cells may have advantages over embryonic and adult stem cells as they are readily accessible, replicate rapidly in culture and can be directed towards various differentiated cell types.
The authors isolated AFS cells from discarded samples of amniotic fluid that were originally collected by amniocentesis to test for fetal genetic diseases. AFS cells share properties of both embryonic and adult stem cells and may represent a developmental intermediate between these two types of stem cell. When cultured under the right conditions, AFS cells can be differentiated towards cell types such as fat, bone, muscle, blood vessel, nerve and liver cells. Once the methods for culturing and differentiating AFS cells have been optimized, the cells may be useful in therapies designed to regenerate damaged organs and tissues.
Anthony Atala (Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Biotechnology press release.
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