Regenerative stem cell therapies are known to be a revolutionary treatment for the future, but the currently most abundant source of stem cells (embryonic) comes with a lot of controversy. Researchers may have found a much less controversial and more abundant alternative as a source for stem cells, menstrual blood.
The tissue lining the uterus, known as endometrial tissue, is shed in part during each menstrual cycle. According to the research, “when the fresh growth of tissue and blood vessels is shed during each menstrual cycle, some cells with regenerative capabilities are present and collectable.” These stem cells, which are “present in connective tissues,” are referred to as stromal stem cells.
“Stromal stem cells derived from menstrual blood exhibit stem cell properties, such as the capacity for self-renewal and multipotency,” says study author Dr. Amit Patel. These menstrual stem cells (MenSCs) were also seen to have the ability to separate into numerous cell lineages, a trait characteristic of bone marrow stem cells, which can only be retrieved invasivly. More specifically, MenSCs were seen to “differentiate” into “adipogenic, chondrogenic, osteogenic, ectodermal, mesodermal, cardiogenic, and neural cell lineages.”
The effectiveness of MenSCs in growth and activity was seen to be better than bone marrow stem cells, and approximately half as effective as embryonic stem cells. “MenSCs expanded rapidly and maintained greater than 50 percent of their telomerase activity when compared to human embryonic stem cells and better than bone marrow-derived stem cells,” according to the study.
These promising characteristics, along with the abundance, accessibility and minimal moral implications of using MenSCs, make the results of this study potentially ground breaking. Stem cells can help with many serious conditions, such as diabetes, muscular diseases, and heart disease.
Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Patel, Amit. Cell Transplantation news release. Aprill 2008.