Stem Cell Research From A Pregnant Woman's Amniotic Fluid And Placenta - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/08/07-Tyler

Stem Cell Research From A Pregnant Woman's Amniotic Fluid And Placenta

Stem cell proponents say this new research is a medical breakthrough and it could treat, or even cure diseases like Alzheimer or Parkinson's.  Researchers have now found some varieties of stem cells in the amniotic fluid, that surrounds human embryos in the womb. So the source of stem cells is not used directly from embryos. 

Scientists say the newest source for stem cells are found in a pregnant woman's amniotic fluid and placenta.  The lead researcher Dr. Anthony Atala of Wake Forest University, says doctors can get the cells without harming the mother or fetus.

"One of the advantages of these cells are they are in ample supply because you can get them both from the amniotic fluid or the placenta - which means you can get them either during gestation when the baby is still in the womb or after the baby is born," says Dr. Atala.

Even though stem cells are not taken directly from the embryo, East Texans are adamant where they stand.

26 year old Karissa Payne of Lindale, has 3 children and is against stem cell research.

"I think there are better ways to do this rather than pulling babies and moms. I think we need to pull a different avenue," says Karissa.

But 31 year old Mary Beth Harris of Tyler, who is 5 months pregnant, says she's seen those who can benefit from amniotic stem cell research.

"I very much support stem cell research and am thrilled if I can help in any way possible.  I have had people in my family that have suffered from Alzheimer or other illness that could possibly be treated by stem cell area.   For that reason, I think it is very worth while," says Mary Beth.

In the future, the decision will be up to a pregnant woman on whether they will make the donation for research.

Dr. Atala estimates, if only 100,000 women donated their amniotic cells to a bank, they would provide enough potential treatment cells for nearly everyone in the United States. Now, last year, the president vetoed a bill to allow federal funding for research on stem cells from discarded embryos. The new Democrat controlled house of representatives is expected to vote on a new stem cell measure this week.  

Karolyn Davis, reporting.  kdavis@kltv.com

    

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