stem cell "seeds" sprout new brain tissue

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Tue Feb 20 2001 - 14:58:31 MST

Umbilical cords could repair brains
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Umbilical cords discarded after birth may offer
a vast new source of repair material for fixing brains damaged by
strokes and other ills, free of the ethical concerns surrounding the
use of fetal tissue, researchers said Sunday. In animal experiments,
at least, cells from umbilical cords appear to greatly speed
recovery after strokes. They work with a simple infusion into the
blood stream without the need for direct implantation into the
brain. Although many details need to be worked out, Dr. Paul R.
Sanberg of the University of South Florida said he hopes to try the
approach on stroke victims within the next year or two. Many experts
believe that primitive tissue called stem cells will someday be
routinely used to make human spare parts. They might replace tissue
damaged by many different diseases, especially such brain ailments
as strokes and Alzheimer's disease. These generic cells can be
nudged to develop into all sorts of specialized tissue to repopulate
every part of the body from head to toe. One source of stem cells is
aborted fetuses or fertility clinics' discarded embryos. However,
this is especially contentious since anti-abortion groups oppose
fetal and embryonic stem cell research, and federally funded
scientists cannot use stem cells from these sources.

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