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article imageCould Menstrual Blood Be Used As Source For Stem Cells?

By KJ Mullins     Dec 2, 2007 in Health
With the ethical questions looming over the research of stem cells could menstrual blood be a partial answer? There are several advantages of the use of this blood including the ease of obtaining it and there is little fear of tissue rejection.
Researchers at a biotechnology firm in Tempe, Arizona have reported the discovery of new stem cells. Medistem published their report in this month's Journal of Translational Medicine. They are now working to find out if this discovery can actually be useful within the medical realm.
Diabetes, multiple sclerosis and cirrhosis of the liver are all conditions that Medistem hopes to be able to find treatments with.
Stem cells come from two sources; embryos and adult tissues. Embryonic stem cells have been proven to be useful in virtually any cell type in the body. The negative though is the means in which they are collected. An embryo has to be destroyed in order for their collection. Adult stem cells on the other hand do not pose the same ethical questions but they have limited powers and collection of them can require invasive procedures.
The latest discovery of using skin cells and reverting them to an embryonic stem cell like state will overcome all of the ethical dilemmas but in there place are safety concerns. Part of the risk is that the technique for converting the cells requires inserting viruses to insert several genes, one of which is known to cause cancer.
Menstrual stem cells could be a happy medium between embryonic and adult stem cells.
As MSNBC reports:“Compared with the stem cells from other sources, such as bone marrow and cord blood, [menstrual stem cells] are easier to collect, do not cause any harm or pain to the donor and can be collected for more than 35 years, from 12 years old to 47,” said Xiaolong Meng of the Bio-Communications Research Institute in Wichita, Kan., who collaborated on the research that resulted in the discovery of the new stem cells.
Both teams had a hunch that it was stem cells that caused the rapid expansion of the uterus lining during a woman's monthly period. They collected menstrual blood from a collection of healthy women to test their theory. They were right and were able to isolate a new type of adult stem cell. One that is safe and risk free to obtain.
Experimenting with the stem cells in lab dishes the researchers discovered that they could be turned into more different tissue types than any other adult stem cell to date. Some of the tissues they were able to manipulate the stem cells into were bone, blood vessel, fat, brain, lung, liver, pancreas and heart. This find may prove to be the most beneficial.
As MSNBC reports:“For starters, they’re easy to obtain,” Lanza said. “And since, they’re the patent's own cells, you don’t need to worry about immune rejection, a major problem associated with the use of embryonic stem cells.”
There are skeptics but the overwhelming evidence could prove to be a major breakthrough in stem cell research.
More about Menstrual blood, Stem cell research, Tissues
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