Sunday, 23 December 2012

Cadavers can be a viable source of Mesenchymal Stem Cells

We know that organs from recently deceased people can be used to save other people lives. But now, the findings of a team from the University of Miami reveal that cadavers may be a viable source of stem cells as well.

According to wikipedia, "Death is the permanent cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living organism.". But when a person dies, it doesn't mean that his cells die immediately. Some take a few hours, while others can sustain themselves for a couple of days.
Mesencymal stem cells are mainly found in the bone marrow, a low oxygen-enviroment. This made Gianluca D'Ippolito and his research at the University of Miami, Florida consider the fact that cadavers could be a viable source of MSCs. They decided to put their theory to the test

Mesenchymal stem cell

First they removed and stored the fingers of two cadavers for five days. Then they extracted the bone marrow and cultured the MSCs in a dish. Five weeks later, the researchers had managed to develop both cartilaginous and adipose tissue from the original MSCs. They continue their experiments in hopes that they will succeed in creating neural and intestinal cells as well.

Currently, the amounts of available bone marrow are relatively low, as a living person can only donate a small amount of his bone marrow at a time. But according to D'Ippolito their discovery may one day permanently solve this problem.

"From one donor, you could take the whole spine, for example. You are going to end up with billions of cells."

Paolo Macchiarini, researcher of regenerative medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm of Sweden,
praises D'Ippolito's team for their work, but also warns that donated must be first checked for safety. This is because MSCs from cadavers may have accumulated DNA damages, resulting from exposure to cold temperatures and/or by the dieing surrounding tissue.

Chris Mason from the University College London also praised their work

"The work is novel and intriguing", but added that stem cells from living donors are still better, "but it would be better to use a living donor". This is because current medical regulators oppose treating individuals with stem cells derived from more than one source.

"You can always go back and get more stem cells from a living donor if you need them, but if you use a cadaver, you'll eventually run out." Mason concluded.


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