October 04, 2002
Umbilical cords as sources of stem cells

A scientist at Oklahoma State is working on growing blood vessels from umbilical cord stem cells:

Sundar Madihally has already found a way to turn stem cells from umbilical cords into endothelial cells, which line the inside of blood vessels.

Within five years, he hopes to create a process that will make blood vessels in large quantities. He plans to patent the idea.

His next project will be to turn the CD34 positive stem cells into tissue for livers and heart valves.

People who are about to have a baby who want to plan way ahead for their baby's future could take the umbilical cord and store cells from it as a future stem cell source. My guess is that the cells would be frozen for long term storage and, while most cells would die, enough would survive being frozen for decades to eventually be usable as stem cells.

Ideally, Madihally said, stem cells would come from umbilical cord blood stored by families, so the blood has the same genetic makeup as the patient.

However, it may well turn out that this technique will never be practically useful. By the time someone born now would be old enough to need umbilical stem cells it is likely other techniques will be available for growing compatible organs from one's own regular cells.

Lots of other tissue growing research is actively being pursued:

One of Madihally's undergraduate students is trying to grow teeth. Other researchers in Cleveland are creating bone and cartilage. A doctor in Philadelphia was able insert stem cells into a baby in the womb and cure the baby's immune deficiency disease, commonly known as the "bubble boy syndrome," before birth.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2002 October 04 12:58 AM  Biotech Organ Replacement

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