Adult stem cells have been used to deal with urinary incontinence, an increasingly common problem amongst older women. In the past, the problem had been treated with surgery, but this is invasive and patients are often reluctant. In a small study of 8 women presented at the American Urological Association, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center injected women with their own stem cells. Five reported improvement and one is completely dry. In a similar study at the Medical University of Innsbruck in Austria, found that 80% of patients’ incontinence was cured and that the results do not appear to fade over time.
A woman’s fat cells may provide another option , according to Tom Lue, of the University of California San Francisco. In animal experiments, he found that stem cells harvested from fat became muscle tissue as well as blood vessel and fat tissues. And by using a person’s own stem cells, Lue says, “we bypass immunology problems and ethical concerns.” Another researcher found promising results with stem cells isolated from urine.
In another development, researchers at the University of Newcastle, in Britain, believe that they are able to engineer stem cells taken from the umbilical cords of newborn babies to get them to produce insulin. Writing in the journal Cell Proliferation, they say that they might be able to provide an alternative to human embryonic stem cells. A leading embryonic stem cell researcher in the US, Rudolph Jaenisch, however, tipped cold water on their claims. “In the past, these claims have been rather unconvincing,” he told Reuters.
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