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Placental Tissue Gives Gift of Life a Second Time

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Stem cells from placental tissue collected after childbirth can now be used to develop treatments for conditions such as diabetes, with each placenta containing enough stem cells to potentially treat 100 patients.

Researchers from The University of Queensland have discovered a way to extract large quantities of endothelial stem cells from the tissue that supplies the foetus with nutrients during pregnancy. The specialist cells, which form part of the interior surface of blood vessels, are abundant in the placenta but it has not previously been possible to isolate them in sufficient quantities for use in treatments.

Study leader A/Prof Kiarash Khosrotehrani said researchers were now working to develop medical treatments from the endothelial stem cells. “One of the therapies we are exploring will benefit patients with any condition where blood supply to tissues is severely restricted, such as heart issues,” he said.

“We have recently discovered that endothelial stem cells form new blood vessels when injected into the body. A single placenta has enough stem cells for 100 doses, which means after giving life to a baby, the organ may then go on to give a new lease of life to many patients.”

Khosrotehrani said laboratory experiments had been promising. “We have conducted experiments in mice with restricted blood flow, and this has revealed that...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.