Posted on 05 August 2009
Canadian researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto have found that the umbilical cord, which is usually discarded after the cord blood has been harvested for future use, in fact has the potential to become a “virtually inexhaustible” source of mesenchymal stem cells that could help researchers avoid the ethical debate surrounding embryonic stem cells.
Test tube and live mice experiments showed that the mesenchymal stem cells are capable of inducing bone and cartilage growth, as well as hastening skin wound healing, the researchers said.
At a recent international conference, the perception was that “Toronto is one of the hotbeds of stem-cell research.”
Posted on 26 April 2009
Babies born with heart defects may one day be able to receive perfectly matched new heart valves built using stem cells from their umbilical cord blood. When these children are born with malfunctioning heart valves that cannot be surgically repaired, they rely on replacements from animal tissue, compatible human organ donations or artificial materials. These replacements can save the baby’s life, but they will not grow and change shape to accommodate the baby’s physical development, involving the need for more surgeries to replace outgrown valves. The animal tissue can also harden over time as well and much weaker than a normal human valve. With the use of these artificial valves, the children also must be treated with blood thinners.
Ralf Sodian, M.D., lead author of a study which is researching the use of cord blood to develop heart valves, and a cardiac surgeon at the University Hospital of Munich, said in a statement:
“In our concept, if prenatal testing shows a heart defect, you could collect blood from the umbilical cord at birth, harvest the stem cells, and fabricate a heart valve that is ready when the baby needs it”
In the study, the scientists used stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood. The cord blood was cryo- frozen to preserve it, then, after twelve weeks, the cells were seeded onto eight heart valve scaffolds made of a biodegradable material and then grown in a lab.