Yesterday, the Chicago Sun Times reported that stem cells found in amniotic fluid have repaired organs in fetuses: “Boston doctors used cells taken from a pregnant lamb’s amniotic fluid to grow a new trachea, then implanted the organ into the ailing fetus, an experiment that may pave the way for similar treatment in humans. [I quote the piece because the link doesn’t work.]
“Using cells from amniotic fluid to repair or replace human organs may bypass some of the political and ethical obstacles doctors encounter with fetal cells, said Children’s Hospital Boston pediatric surgeon Dario Fauza, who led the experiments. ‘You avoid all the ethical dilemmas of the embryonic stem cell,’ Fauza said. ‘The cells are already there’ in the mother’s amniotic fluid. ‘We are just harvesting it and making the tissue you want.'”
It would appear that these cells are pluripotent, that is, able to transform into any cell in the body. If so, it would open up yet another source of cells for use in regenerative medicine that would appear to carry no moral baggage (assuming you could get human amniotic fluid stem cells ethically).
I did a little checking, and it seems that this potential has been known for a few years.
Every day the case for embryonic stem cells as the primary thrust in research and the vacuum of public funding grows weaker. And, it was reported in a mainstream media outlet.