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Pregnancy cells used to grow mini lungs and organs

  • 2 Min To Read
  • a month ago

Researchers from University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital in the United Kingdom have made a significant advancement in prenatal medicine by creating miniorgans, or "organoids," from cells collected from amniotic fluid samples taken during 12 pregnancies. These miniorgans can be used to test new medical treatments and study how real organs function, whether they are healthy or diseased.

This new approach allows scientists to collect tissue-specific stem cells shed by the fetus, identifying cells from the lungs, kidneys, and intestines. Previously, mini-organs have been derived from adult stem cells or fetal tissue after an abortion. By collecting cells from amniotic fluid, researchers can avoid regulations about taking stem cells directly from fetal tissue, enabling them to study fetuses in the latter part of pregnancy.

The use of amniotic fluid cells for research has raised ethical questions about the use of fetal tissue, but experts like emeritus professor Alta Charo from the University of Wisconsin at Madison believe that obtaining cells from amniotic fluid for standard clinical purposes does not pose any additional physical risks to the fetus or pregnant woman.

Dr. Arnold Kriegstein from the University of California, San Francisco highlights the potential of this approach in providing information about individual fetuses as they grow. The U.K. team collaborated with colleagues in Belgium to study babies with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, growing lung organoids from their cells to assess the condition before and after treatment.

While this research is still in its early stages, further studies are needed to determine the long-term usefulness of growing miniorgans from cells in amniotic fluid. This innovative approach has the potential to revolutionize prenatal medicine, offering new insights into fetal development and congenital diseases.

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