(02/28/13) - The tiniest among us could help save the lives of thousands of
people waiting for organ transplants. It is a discovery that could literally
help grow organs for patients waiting for donors.
It is a list no one wants to be on. Right now, more than 90,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant.
The numbers can be overwhelming, but something growing inside a petri dish right now could change everything, says Dr. Roger De Filippo, "it has never been done before."
Stored inside a lab at The Children's Hospital in Los Angeles are stem cells taken from amniotic fluid. It is the fluid that surrounds fetuses in the womb.
Those stem cells can be used, De Filippo says, to heal damaged kidneys, "what we found was the cells were able to regenerate the normal tissue in the kidney and become part of the kidney."
He says the stem cells can actually help a dying kidney fix itself, "in this flask here you have a number of regenerated kidneys."
The doctor believes the same stem cells could be injected directly into a patient's diseased organ, "become part of that organ, even regenerate the necessary building blocks of that organ."
De Filippo's work could change the future for people suffering from acute kidney disease, diabetes and genetic disorder, "slow down the progression of the disease pretty significantly."
This research is being done with amniotic stem cells - from fluids collected after childbirth. There is an endless supply of them. This type of cell can not only be used for kidneys, but they can adapt to any other type of organ as well.
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