Placental stem cells

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Human stem cells from the placenta; a non-controversial, plentiful source of human stem cells for progressing medical research and developing new medical therapies

Dr Bill Kalionis, Dr Clare Whitehead, Prof Shaun Brennecke

Stem cells have been isolated also from a variety of adult and embryonic sources. Currently, stem cells for research are taken from the umbilical cords of newborn babies, bone marrow of children or adults, or aborted fetuses, or discarded test-tube embryos.

However, these sources have a number of limitations. Umbilical cord blood contains only small numbers of stem cells and extraction of bone marrow requires a painful needle and a very close match between donor and recipient to prevent rejection. Moreover, the use of embryos and fetal tissue as stem cell sources is extremely contentious.

Recently, the placenta has been shown to be a plentiful, non-controversial source of stem cells. It therefore may have a number of advantages over traditional methods of preparing stem cells.

Our aim is to develop methods to harvest and characterise stem cells from the placenta so as to provide a safe non-controversial alternative to the harvesting of embryonic or fetal stem cells. These placental stem cells will be used to develop novel therapies in our field of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. In addition, through collaborative interactions with other medical researchers, these stem cells will be used to develop novel therapies to treat a wide range of other significant human diseases and disorders.

Our research group has extensive experience in studying placental functions and specific placental cell types. We enjoy an excellent international reputation for innovative and leading edge placental research.

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