Sunday, January 07, 2007

Anthony Atala on stem cells in amniotic fluid

Dr. Anthony Atala, of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, publishing in the journal Nature Biotechnology, observes: 'Is there a possibility that within this [amniotic] cell population we can capture true stem cells?' The answer is yes."

Atala's group used discarded samples from amniocentesis, a test used to check fetuses for birth defects. The cells come from the fetus, which breathes and sucks in, then excretes, the amniotic fluid throughout pregnancy, Atala told reporters in a telephone conference.

"They are easier to grow than human embryonic stem cells," Atala added in a telephone interview. And, unlike embryonic stem cells, they do not form a type of benign tumor called a teratoma, he said. [Look also here.

[text from Reuters]

IPBiz had discussed other work of Anthony Atala in April, 2006.

Of the possible political significance of the Atala work, Reuters notes:

Bush spokesman Tony Snow signaled no change in that approach, and praised a study published on Sunday from Dr. Anthony Atala at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, who found stem cells in the amniotic fluid that protects unborn fetuses.


Colorado Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette said she did not worry that the amniotic stem cell finding would affect anyone's vote in Congress.

"People who were already opposed to the bill will simply use this as an excuse," she said. "I don't think we'll lose any votes because of this."

Maureen Knightly, a staffer for Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, agreed and said she hoped recent polls showing strong support for the research might sway Bush. "You have to always hold out one last hope that he will change his mind," she said.

***The journal Science (315 Science 170 (12 Jan 07)) discusses Atala's work in "Versatile Stem Cells Without Ethical Baggage?" Within it discusses work of Ming-Song Tsai on mesenchymal cells. Tsai apparently has certain method patents.


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