A study led by the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine have reported that the stem cells they drew from amniotic fluid donated by pregnant women hold much the same promise as embryonic stem cells.
The researchers were able to withdraw the stem cells from the amniotic fluid without harm to mother or fetus and turn their discovery into several different tissue cell types, including brain, liver and bone. It is uncertain at this time whether the amniotic stem cells will be capable of differentiating into all types of cells, but research is continuing.
If these amniotic stem cells are capable of full differentiation, like embryonic stem cells, then there will no longer be a need to harm embryos to generate stem cells for use in research and potential therapies. It could also mean that many more stem cells are available for therapies than would be by harvesting from discarded embryos.
In my opinion, this could be the major health sciences news story of the year, and it comes in early January. Stem cells hold the potential for treating so many devastating illnesses that anything we can do to increase availability--especially if it means doing it ethically--is a good thing.
Read the whole story HERE.