Stem cell success reported from amniotic fluid

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 22, 2007

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Scientists at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina and Harvard Medical School in Boston have used stem cells found in amniotic fluid to create muscle, bone, fat, blood vessel, nerve and liver cells.

This widely covered finding is remarkable because of the ready availability of the cells. The report appeared in the Jan. 7 Nature Biotechnology.

"It has been known for decades that both the placenta and amniotic fluid contain multiple progenitor cell types from the developing embryo, including fat, bone and muscle," said Anthony Atala, MD, director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest. "We asked the question, 'Is there a possibility that within this cell population we can capture true stem cells?' The answer is yes."

Dr. Atala and colleagues discovered a small number of stem cells in amniotic fluid that can give rise to many of the specialized cell types found in the human body.

The scientists believe the newly discovered stem cells, which they have named amniotic fluid-derived stem cells, may represent an intermediate stage between embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. The cells have markers consistent with both types.

An advantage of these stem cells is their ready availability. The cells studied were harvested from backup amniotic fluid specimens obtained for amniocentesis. Similar stem cells were isolated from the placenta and other membranes.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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