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Unlocking the Key to Regenerative Medicine
CHORI Scientists Demonstrate that Human Placental Stem Cells Have High Therapeutic Potential

May 9, 2012 – CHORI Scientists Vladimir Serikov, MD, PhD, Frans Kuypers, PhD and their colleagues at UCSF (Dr. M.A. Matthay) have just published a landmark study in Stem Cells Translational Medicine, online May 9, 2012, and soon to be featured on the cover of the June hardcopy issue. The study has the potential to revolutionize our approach to stem cell therapy by demonstrating that stem cells from normally discarded human placenta can both be harvested in large quantities and demonstrate important therapeutic properties.

"Our study shows that placental stem cells have broad therapeutic potential," says Dr. Kuypers. "Not only that, but because they are harvested from normally discarded placental tissue, their use avoids any ethical concerns associated with other potential stem cell therapies."

“Placental stem cells have broad therapeutic potential, their use avoids any ethical concerns associated with other potential stem cell therapies.”



Previous studies by Drs. Serikov and Kuypers had demonstrated a novel technology to harvest blood forming stem cells from placenta to augment therapies using cord blood for curative transplantations. In the latest study, Drs. Serikov and Kuypers harvested stem cells from the fetal side of human term placenta, called the chorion, which is part of the afterbirth and normally discarded. The results showed that these fetal cells tested highly positive for typical embryonic stem cell markers.

"These markers mean that placental stem cells can differentiate into different types of human cells, such as lung, liver, or brain cells," says Dr. Serikov.
“These markers mean that placental stem cells can differentiate into different types of human cells, such as lung, liver, or brain cells.”
As Dr. Serikov explains, "This means that these cells have broad therapeutic potential because they can integrate into different types of tissues. Even more importantly, we show in our study that they can do this without forming tumor-like structures in the mouse, as is the characteristic of embryonic stem cell when injected in mice."

The results of the study also demonstrated that these stem cells can be doubled more than 100 times without a decrease in telomere length, which is an indicator of aging.

"These cells are only nine months old so they have all the characteristics of young and vigorous cells," says Dr. Kuypers. "Not only that, unlike adult stem cells, they don't have to be reprogrammed to be able to differentiate into different types of tissues."
Finally, Drs. Serikov and Kuypers demonstrated that these placental cells generated growth factors that effectively facilitated the repair of injured human lung tissue, indicating that placental stem cells could provide the ultimate key to unlocking our ability to provide treatments and cures for debilitating diseases through regenerative stem cell therapy.

"Because we can isolate these placental stem cells from either fresh or frozen term human placentas, this implies that if each individual's placenta is stored at birth instead of thrown away, these cells could be harvested in the future if therapeutic need arises," says Dr. Serikov.

“While embryonic stem cells have been the dominant focus of the stem cell research field, what we show here is that placental-derived stem cells may provide a much more practical, abundant, and ethnically uncomplicated source of stem cells for use in regenerative medicine.”

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Sunday, June 3, 2012 8:37 AM

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