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The “Menstrual blood” cells are a rich source of stem cells.

Sat, Nov 17, 2007

Biology, Biotech

The “monthly curse” may be anything but: menstrual blood appears to be a rich and easily accessible source of adult stem cells, claim two competing research groups.

Each month, after a woman’s uterine lining is shed, it has to be rebuilt in preparation for a fertilised egg. This feat involves growing the billions of cells making up the 5 millimetre-thick lining in just seven days.

Recent research has indicated that the uterine lining, or endometrium, is a rich source of adult stem cells. But retrieving those cells is as invasive as harvesting adult stem cells from other sources, such as bone marrow.

Now two separate groups say they have found these endometrial stem cells in menstrual blood.

Both groups say the cells in question show all the hallmarks of stem cells: they replicate themselves without differentiating, they can be made to differentiate into many different cell types under the right conditions, and they show characteristic cell surfaces of stem cells.
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