Amniotic fluid cryogenics


Several Massachusetts firms are moving ahead with ambitious stem-cell research plans, circumventing the ethical debate over embryonic research by using other, less-controversial but equally as important methods.

Near Boston, Biocell Center has opened the first and only amniotic fluid stem-cell cryogenics bank in the United States. By using cells from fluid obtained during routine amniocentesis, a prenatal procedure that requires the removal of a small amount of amniotic fluid to test for specific birth defects, they are able to avoid the moral controversy triggered by embryonic stem-cell research.

The company harvests and stores stem-cells from the fluid surrounding an unborn child in the uterus, a process that does not interfere with the fetus itself. “We are working with non-embryonic, so we are out of that debate,” said Kate Torchilin, CEO Biocell Center Corporation. A sample from the fluid that is normally discarded is retained and cryopreserved.

“Stem cells are present and powerful in the second trimester of pregnancy, and we have a chance to collect a sample without interfering with the normal course of clinical care,” Ms. Torchilin continued.

The preserved cells can theoretically be used in the future to repair tissue or treat a variety of diseases. Because they are from the individual’s own amniotic fluid, the risk of rejection by the body is reduced.

“Biocell Center has been working with perinatologists and Ob/Gyn doctors worldwide for several years,” said Kate Torchilin, CEO of Biocell Center Corporation. “We understand the effects that high-risk pregnancy can have on mothers and families and we are hoping to inform women undergoing amniocentesis that they have a unique opportunity to cryopreserve amniotic fluid stem cells as a biological insurance for the future.”

Source: The Washington Times, Medical News Today


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