WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Stem cells nearly as powerful as embryonic stem cells can be found in the amniotic fluid that protects babies in the womb, U.S. researchers reported on Sunday.
They used them to create muscle, bone, fat, blood vessel, nerve and liver cells in the laboratory and said they believe the placenta and amniotic fluid can provide one more source of the valued cells, which scientists hope will someday transform medicine.
They would also provide a non-controversial source of the cells, which are found with difficulty throughout the body and in days-old embryos.
Embryonic cells are considered the most malleable of the various types of stem cells, but these amniotic fluid-derived cells are a close second, said Dr. Anthony Atala, of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, who led the study.
"Our hope is that these cells will provide a valuable resource for tissue repair and for engineered organs as well," Atala said in a statement.
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