June 18, 2009

Hysterectomies Could Be Source For Stem Cell Harvesting

Researchers are suggesting that discarded fallopian tubes from hysterectomies could be a good source of donor stem cells "” offering another "ethical" route to creating stem cell treatments without using embryos, BBC News reported.

Experts say they contain a rich source of the immature cells that have the potential to become a variety of the body's tissues, like muscle and bone.

Previous studies have shown it is possible to get mesenchymal stem cells from umbilical cords, menstrual blood, teeth and fat tissue.

University of São Paulo researchers now believe that fallopian tubes, discarded during the course of hysterectomies or female sterilization operations, may also have an abundant source of these cells.

The scientists were able to harvest, multiply and then coax the mesenchymal stem cells to turn into healthy muscle, fat, cartilage and bone cell lines in the lab, according to the findings published in The Journal of Translational Medicine.

The team suggests these adult stem cells could also be useful for understanding and treating fertility problems since they are capable of replacing damaged cells in the fallopian tube.

While these cells could provide a source of stem cells for regenerative medicine, it will still take more time and research before they could be given to patients, the team noted.

Since stem cells from embryos are in a so-called pluripotent state, meaning they have an unlimited capacity to become any of the types of cells and tissue in the human body, most of the work on stem cells has focused on that type of research.

However, many religious groups and objectors argue it is unethical to destroy embryos in the name of science.

"This is another promising source to add to the list of so-called 'ethical' sources of stem cells," said stem cell expert Stephen Minger of Kings College London.

But Minger noted that bone marrow and fat were more accessible and less intrusive sources for stem cells.

"Obtaining multi-potent stem cells from discarded fallopian tubes is yet another example of the extraordinary potential of human waste tissue," said Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics.

She hopes that these cells could also be used for infertility problems in women, as they could possibly repair damaged fallopian tubes for women who can't conceive.


On the Net: