Scientists on Sunday reported the discovery of a new source of human stem cells that have the capability to develop into many different types of cells, including muscle, bone, fat, blood vessel, nerve and liver cells.
[..]It's been known for decades that the placenta and amniotic fluid contain a large number of cells shed from the developing embryo. [..]Unlike "true" stem cells, however, these cells were predestined to grow into only one type of cell, or a limited type of other cells.
"We wanted to see if there was a true stem cell population within this fluid, pluripotent stem cells which could give rise to multiple cell types," Atala explained. Pluripotent cells are capable of differentiating into many different types of cells.
After seven years of digging, Atala's team found that 1 percent of the amniotic fluid cells were pluripotent. The newly discovered cells seem to possess characteristics that rest halfway between embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Like other stem cells, they can self-renew and double in number every 36 hours. But unlike other stem cells, they do not produce tumors.Read full article here