A New Source of Pluripotent Stem Cells
8 Jan, 2007 06:18 pm
Dr. Atala is senior researcher and director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He and his colleagues have identified a new stem cell found in amniotic fluid and placentas, named "AFS" cells. Dr. Atala speaks with us about his findings.
Basically, we came to this conclusion by harvesting the cells from amniotic fluid making sure they were a true stem cell population and going through the reverse studies that need to be done to show that the cells truly are pluripotent. We then made sure the cells had the specific characteristics of stem cells that we now have come to realize as a scientific community.
What are the implications of this for regenerative therapy?
Essentially, it's just an additional stem cell line that has some characteristics that will hopefully be useful clinically someday. It is obtained from a source which is more plentiful because there are so many births per year, in the U.S. alone there are about 4.5 million births per year so it would be a readily available source which would make it more available for therapy.
How far away do you think we are from possibly using AFS stem cells for regenerative therapy?
We are working aggressively to make that happen, but it's probably years away.
Will AFS cells solve the ethical debate about how stem cells are acquired?
We are just describing a new type of cell. Obviously, it's a different cell type: it is neither a embryonic stem cell nor an adult stem cell. What we've identified has characteristics of both, so as such, it's going to have different characteristics and different implications than other cell types.
These AFS cells seem like a "miracle cure." What would you say to this?
I think it's very early in the development of these cells to try to make any long term conclusions.
De Coppi, P., Bartsch Jr., G., Siddiqui, M.M., Xu, T., Santos, C.C., Perin, L., Mostoslavsky, G., Serre, A.C., Snyder, E. Y., Yoo, J.J., Furth, M.E., Soker, S. & Atala, A. Isolation of amniotic stem cell lines with potential for therapy. Published online: Nature Biotechnology.? 7 January 2007; | doi:10.1038/nbt1274.