Fetal stem cells. Considerable scientific interest (archives)
A breakthrough made by Israeli researchers may pave the way for healing chronic illnesses: Researchers from Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital have developed a new method for producing large amounts of human fetal stem cells.
Fetal stem cells can transform into any type of cell in the human body. The cells attract considerable scientific interest due to the estimate that in the future they could be used as an endless source of cells, which will be transplanted and improve the performance of organs in a wide variety of degenerative diseases.
The medical world hopes to be able to use fetal stem cells to heal Parkinson's disease, diabetes, reticular degeneration and other illnesses. In addition, the cells may be used in the future to grow human organs which would replace damaged organs like kidneys and liver.
Up to now, stem cells would be multiplied in colonies of one cell layer attached to a flat substrate. In their study, the Israeli researchers showed that human fetal stem cells can be produced and multiplied while floating in liquid substrate.
"The study's findings are an important step ahead of an automatic and controlled creation of the large amounts of cells needed for transplant and other industrial and research purposes," says Prof. Benjamin Rubinoff, director of the Hadassah Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Center, who headed the team of researchers.
The study's findings offer the first practical option of growing large quantities of fetal stem cells in large containers with calculated and accurate control of the breeding conditions.
The research was conducted as part of Dr. Deborah Steiner's post-doctoral study with the help of other researchers from the Hadassah Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Center. The study was published recently in the prestigious Nature Biotechnology journal.