Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Promising New Treatment with Stem Cells

Promising New Treatment with Stem Cells

     A new study has found that stem cells taken from amniotic fluid have the potential to treat infants with Necrotizing Enterocolitis. This disease is characterized by cell death (necrosis) of the intestinal lining. There is no definitive cause, but prematurity, blood transfusions, and concentrated formulas all increase the risk of this disease. NEC has roughly a 15 to 20% mortality rate.
      Great Ormond Street Hospital funded the UCL Institute of Child Health to conduct a study that researched treatments of NEC. Breast milk and Probiotics were both shown to help with NEC, but their effects are limited, and all too often NEC requires invasive techniques such as surgery to remove dead tissue or a transplant of healthy tissue.
     Rats afflicted with this disease were separated into three groups: one group was left untreated, one that was treated with stems cells extracted from their own femurs, and one group that was treated with stem cells from amniotic fluid. The rats treated with stem cells from amniotic fluid were found to have a much higher survival rate than those of the other two groups after only a week of treatment. MRIs revealed significantly decreased inflammation.
     Upon further research, amniotic stem cells were found to aide the intestines differently than bone marrow stem cells. Instead of simply regenerating tissue, they released growth factors that reduced inflammation and enhanced new development of tissue. They exhibited actions of repairing the source of disease.
     This is the first study to show the treatment potential of amniotic stem cells in intestinal pathology. As more is learned about the process of how amniotic stem cells repair tissue, treatments will evolve and hopefully more invasive techniques will decrease.

posted by Ashley Sterpka (1)


  1. Poor little preemie babies! I guess it would make sense that amniotic stem cells would help preemie babies since they would still be in the amniotic sac if they were not born early. You said there is no definite cause but are there certain bacteria that they think might be the culprit? This is a really amazing discovery that seems like it could help save a lot of lives, and treat more disease than just NEC. Thanks for sharing this wonderful article.

    Posted by Kaitlin Jones (3)

  2. There is some research that has deduced that in NEC, normal intestinal bacteria can attack one's own intestines leading to tissue death. But many other sources are unwilling to blame this bacteria for the cause of the disease, saying that it only plays a role once the disease has started.

    -Ashley Sterpka (1)

  3. Addendum to post.
    The process of extracting amniotic stem cells.
    The process of extracting amniotic stem cells is a very safe procedure done through removing some of the fluid from a pregnant female by means of syringe. This process has less than a 1% chance of damaging the fetus. Because of this, amniotic stem cell usage is on the rise because of its less controversial methods.

    posted by Ashley Sterpka (1)

  4. Addendum 2
    There is a lot to say about the success rate of these amniotic stem cells over the success of stem cells from bone marrow. The amniotic stem cells were likely to still have been unspecialized at the time of their harvest. Bone marrow stem cells on the other hand, would be partially specialized. So although they could assist to a point, they would not be able to differentiate as mucg, and therefore could not help as much. This information is really important in determining which stem cells will help the most with treating disease.
    Ashley Sterpka (1)

  5. What is the normal function of stem cells in the amniotic fluid? If they aren't part of the embryo/fetus, what are they doing?

    Joseph Starrett(3)