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 More than just a mechanical barrier – epithelial cells actively combat the flu virus
04.05.2016 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

nachricht Discovery of a fundamental limit to the evolution of the genetic code
03.05.2016 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Nuclear Pores Captured on Film

Using an ultra fast-scanning atomic force microscope, a team of researchers from the University of Basel has filmed “living” nuclear pore complexes at work for the first time. Nuclear pores are molecular machines that control the traffic entering or exiting the cell nucleus. In their article published in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers explain how the passage of unwanted molecules is prevented by rapidly moving molecular “tentacles” inside the pore.

Using high-speed AFM, Roderick Lim, Argovia Professor at the Biozentrum and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute of the University of Basel, has not only directly...

Im Focus: 2+1 is Not Always 3 - In the microworld unity is not always strength

If a person pushes a broken-down car alone, there is a certain effect. If another person helps, the result is the sum of their efforts. If two micro-particles are pushing another microparticle, however, the resulting effect may not necessarily be the sum their efforts. A recent study published in Nature Communications, measured this odd effect that scientists call “many body.”

In the microscopic world, where the modern miniaturized machines at the new frontiers of technology operate, as long as we are in the presence of two...

Im Focus: Tiny microbots that can clean up water

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute Stuttgart have developed self-propelled tiny ‘microbots’ that can remove lead or organic pollution from contaminated water.

Working with colleagues in Barcelona and Singapore, Samuel Sánchez’s group used graphene oxide to make their microscale motors, which are able to adsorb lead...

Im Focus: ORNL researchers discover new state of water molecule

Neutron scattering and computational modeling have revealed unique and unexpected behavior of water molecules under extreme confinement that is unmatched by any known gas, liquid or solid states.

In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe a new tunneling state of...

Im Focus: Bionic Lightweight Design researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute at Hannover Messe 2016

Honeycomb structures as the basic building block for industrial applications presented using holo pyramid

Researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) will introduce their latest developments in the field of bionic lightweight design at Hannover Messe from 25...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

The “AC21 International Forum 2016” is About to Begin

27.04.2016 | Event News

Soft switching combines efficiency and improved electro-magnetic compatibility

15.04.2016 | Event News

Grid-Supportive Buildings Give Boost to Renewable Energy Integration

12.04.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

New fabrication and thermo-optical tuning of whispering gallery microlasers

04.05.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Introducing the disposable laser

04.05.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

A new vortex identification method for 3-D complex flow

04.05.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>