Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists find potential stem cells in amniotic fluid – a new source?

30.06.2003


Research by Austrian geneticists has raised the possibility that stem cells[1] could be isolated from amniotic fluid – the protective ’bath water’ that surrounds the unborn baby.



Geneticist Professor Markus Hengstschläger and his team at the University of Vienna have isolated a subgroup of cells from amniotic fluid that express a protein called Oct-4 – known to be a key marker for human pluripotent stem cells.

Reporting the findings today (Monday 30 June) in Europe’s leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction[2], Professor Hengstschläger stressed that the investigation was at an early stage. A lot more work had to be done to verify the finding, and tests were now under way to establish in which direction the cells could be differentiated. However, preliminary experiments have already provided evidence that they can be differentiated into nerve cells.


If, after extensive research these stem cells do prove to have similar potential to embryonic stem cells, ultimately it could reduce the need to use human embryos as a source, thus easing the tensions in this ethically controversial area.

Professor Hengstschläger believes that his team will know within two years what the amniotic cells are capable of becoming. "We have already presented good evidence in this paper for the existence of stem cells in amniotic fluid and we have evidence for neuronal differentiation. The question for the future will be – what can these cells do, in which directions can they be differentiated? Whether these cells have the same potential as embryonic stem cells is a question that can only be answered by a variety of experiments. However, our gene marker analyses demonstrate that they at least appear to resemble embryonic stem cells."

Professor Hengstschläger’s group is the first to identify amniotic fluid as a potential source of pluripotent stem cells although others have previously suggested that amniotic fluid cells might be able to make skin.

To find the cells the researchers examined amniotic fluid taken from routine diagnostic amniocentesis on pregnant women. Genetic tests on 11 independent samples revealed Oct-4 mRNA (messenger RNA) in five of the samples. They went on to test for further indications of their potential and identified stem cell factor (a growth factor), vimentin and the enzyme alkaline phosphatase mRNA expression. All three of these molecules are markers for pluripotent stem cells.

"There is no doubt as to the importance of Oct-4 for the maintenance of stem cells," said Professor Hengstschläger. "Each mammalian pluripotent stem cell line expresses Oct-4, which rapidly disappears when the cells differentiate."

Further tests on the nucleus confirmed that the correct molecule had been analysed and suggested that the Oct-4 protein expression in the amniotic fluid cells was indeed functional.

Professor Hengstschläger said that the fact that only half the amniotic fluid samples were Oct-4 positive and that only 0.1 to 0.5% of cells within these positive samples expressed the Oct-4 transcription factor indicated that there was a distinct sub-population within the amniotic fluid cell sample with the potential to differentiate, rather than indicating that they had simply found a low general background Oct-4 expression. The cells were also shown to have dividing ability because cyclin A – a crucial protein that drives cell division – was present.

"Even if, in due course, we find that this new source of stem cells only have the ability to differentiate into a specific subset of cell lines, this is still an extremely interesting finding," he said. "We believe that our findings, together with the recent demonstration that amniotic fluid can be used for tissue engineering, encourages the further investigation of human amniotic fluid as a putative new source of stem cells with high potency."


###
[1] Stem cells: the body’s master cells. They develop a few days after fertilisation. They have the facility to divide indefinitely and develop into many different specialised cells i.e. they differentiate – becoming the cells that make up all our tissues e.g. skin, blood, muscle, glands, nerves…. Stem cells have become one of the most exciting areas of research because of their ability to be cultured in a laboratory and stimulated with chemicals to become any one of the scores of specialist cells in the body. The vision is that they will one day be used to repair damaged organs, rather than using drugs or transplants. Stems cells consist of three types: totipotent (can become any cell in the body or in the placenta), pluripotent (can become any cell in the body except embryonic membranes) and multipotent (can become a limited number of types of cell).

[2] Oct-4-expressing cells in human amniotic fluid: a new source for stem cell research? Human Reproduction. Vol. 18. No 7. Pp 1489-1493.


Contact (media inquiries only):
Margaret Willson:
Tel: +44-0-153-677-2181
Mobile: +44-0-797-385-3347
Email: m.willson@mwcommunications.org.uk

Professor Markus Hengstschläger:
Tel: +43-14-0400-7847
Mobile: 0-664-500-8297

ESHRE Press Office: (Sunday 29 June -Wednesday 2 July)
Margaret Willson, Emma Mason, Maria Maneiro, Janet Blümli
Tel: + 34-9-722-0501 or +34-91-722-0502
Fax: +34-91-722-0503

Margaret Willson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www3.oup.co.uk/eshre/press-release/jun03.pdf
http://www.eshre.com

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bare bones: Making bones transparent
27.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>