Womb of life

Womb stem cells could help regenerate a diseased liver.
Womb stem cells could help regenerate a diseased liver.

What if the very thing that assists a fetus to grow in the womb could also prevent disease in a fully grown adult?

Monash Institute of Medical Research scientists have discovered that stem cells from the womb have the potential to treat inflammatory diseases such as lung fibrosis and liver cirrhosis in both children and adults.

The stem cells come from the amniotic membrane which is attached to the placenta and secretes the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby while in the womb.

The World Health Organization estimates that over 450 million people worldwide suffer from alcohol- and hepatitis-related liver fibrosis. To date, the only cure for advanced disease is organ transplant.

A team led by Dr Ursula Manuelpillai from Monash Institute of Medical Research and Assoc. Prof. William Sievert, Director of the Gastroenterology & Hepatology Unit at Monash Medical Centre, has studied animal models that mimic lung and liver fibrosis in humans.

There is a good chance that their research will enable placental tissues, normally discarded at birth, to be used to reduce inflammation and help regenerate a diseased liver.

The team is aiming for clinical trials for treatments within the next two to three years.

For more information: Monash Institute of Medical Research, Hailee Gyngell, Tel: +61 (3) 9594 7138, Hailee.Gyngell@med.monash.edu.au

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