Brona McVittie reports :: January 2007

Fears over the use of embryos as a source of human embryonic stem cells fade further into the distance as science finds a new source of cells that can be developed into many kinds of adult tissue. Anthony Atala, head of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine (Wake Forest University School of Medicine), describes in Nature Biotechnology how his team successfully extracted cells from pregnant women. These cells make up about 1% of the amniotic fluid surrounding the developing baby, and are thought to be about half-way between embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Although it took years to prove they have similar properties to stem cells, the team has shown they are self-renewing and can be used to create a broad range of cells that might be useful for therapy.

See our guide for the basics on stem cells

Read the press release