Isolation and Characterization of A Novel Stem Cell Line from Amniotic Fluid and their Potential for Regenerative Medicine Applications

Funding Type: 
New Cell Lines
Grant Number: 
ICOC Funds Committed: 
Public Abstract: 

Over the past decade, there has been increasing emphasis placed on stem cells and their potential role in regenerative medicine for the reconstruction of bio-artificial tissues and organs. Embryonic stem cells derived from blastocysts, propagate readily and are capable of forming aggregates (embryoid bodies) that generate a variety of specialized cells including neural, cardiac, and pancreatic cells. However, one of the limitations of embryonic stem cells is their inherent ability to form very complex tumors, known as teratomas, once transplanted into nude mice. From a basic science stand point, teratomas represent primitive embryo development and can serve as a possible model for understanding some of the principles of human tissue differentiation in the laboratory. However, these cells can continue to grow out of control and form tumors. Therefore, teratoma formation is not desirable when developing possible translational or clinical therapies targeted for human applications. In pursuit of safer alternatives, scientists, like myself, have looked at other potential sources for pluripotential cells that can be a viable option to the use instead of embryonic stem cells.

Amniotic fluid has been used as a safe and reliable screening tool for genetic and congenital diseases in the fetus for many years. This commonly used diagnostic modality holds very little risk associated with it to either the mother or unborn child. Amniotic fluid also contains a vast repository of progenitor cells that may have a useful role in bioengineering applications. Recently a population of human and rodent amniotic fluid stem cells have been reported in the literature by us and others as giving rise to many different cell types of varying lineages including bone, muscle, fat, and liver with no development of tumors. In our laboratory we have studied extensively this novel population of stem cells derived from amniotic fluid for kidney regeneration. We have demonstrated that this multipotent stem cell population can recapitulate some of the essential steps of kidney development, when injected into an embryonic environment.

We would like to continue our efforts in examining this very unique subpopulation of stem cells and validate their role as a true alternative embryonic stem cell line that can be used successfully for regenerative medicine purposes. We plan to characterize fully this new stem cell line and compare them with standard embryonic stem cells to identify important similarities and differences. More importantly, we plan to investigate their ability to ameliorate certain forms of organ diseases, and/or injuries, in an effort to benchmark their potential benefit for reliably safe and biocompatible clinical therapies in the future.

Statement of Benefit to California: 

The State of California is home of some of the nation’s best organ transplant and treatment centers. Having our laboratory next to one of California’s busiest pediatric renal transplant programs in the country {REDACTED} we became acutely aware of the growing shortage of organs for our patients and the need for good alternative therapies in the field of bioengineering and regenerative medicine. The need for donor organs continues to precipitously rise every year and emerging technologies such as those offered by stem cell research may assist our patients and the rest of the citizens in California with alternative technologies that perhaps can make a significant impact in this field. Although human embryonic stem cells show the capacity for multiple differentiation and the prospect for new medical cures, they also have an inherent propensity to form teratomas (benign tumors) in culture which may actually limit their clinical usefulness for future therapies. However, a very novel population of pluripotent stem cells exists within amniotic fluid which can be easily obtained, stored, and possibly used for future regenerative medicine or clinical purposes without the same concerns over clinical compatibility as embryonic stem cells have. These cells could possibly be a safer alternative for regenerative medicine applications aimed at evolving into human clinical therapies that would help those citizens of California in need of organ replacement, or therapies that could ameliorate their conditions. We intend to characterize the potential these cells have for bioengineering applications, a process by which we have extensive experience and success in performing.