Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Breast Milk contains Stem Cells

The use and harvest of stem cells has been a moral quagmire for the last decade. On the one hand, stem cells - the undifferentiated cells that will eventually form all of the highly-specialized cells throughout your body - could be extremely useful for treating diseases ranging from cancer to Alzheimer's disease. On the other hand, the primary source for stem cells is aborted fetuses, many of whom were created and aborted specifically to harvest these cells. When one believes human life begins at conception, it is a case of trading one human life for another, without consent.

But new research may offer hope for stem cell therapies without the moral complications. It turns out breast milk may be up to 2% stem cells. This may provide a cheap and renewable source of stem cells for research and therapy, and may allow pregnant women to "bank" a supply of stem cells during their reproductive years for use later on if they develop disease.


quizwedge said...

This may have changed but my understanding was that almost anything you could do with neonatal stem cells could be done with adult stem cells and there were more advances with adult stem cells.

Nomad said...

Wedge, From my reading, the problem to date has been with acquiring adult stem cells. A fetus is basically ALL stem cells, whereas your and my bodies contain only a tiny portion of them which are harvested only with difficulty. Advances like this make it much easier to harvest adult cells, and thus far less attractive to exploit the unborn.