Scientists Find Stem Cells In Breast Milk
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25 May 2010
Researchers from the National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) and the Patki hospital and Research Foundation, Kolhapur, have demonstrated the presence of stem cells in breast milk and documented the potential of these cells in producing insulin–secreting cells, bone cells, even fat cells.
Ideally, bone marrow and fat tissues are the conventional source of stem cells, but the researcher–duo claim that this is the first ever published research where they have documented a new source for stem cells in the human body. The research was recently published in the medical journal ‘Human Cells’.
The researchers say that these cells can be propagated and expanded and a bank can be created to be used for those in need.
The characterisation of the cells was done at the NCCS. Revealing details of the research which began in 2008, Ramesh Bhonde who has now retired from NCCS said, "We always thought that breast milk contained cells, but what was unknown is the role of these cells in human therapy. This research enabled us to arrive at the conclusion and define the cells and also their usability."
According to the researchers, the finding is important, given the fact that these cells can be cultured and a bank can be created which can be further used for newborn babies suffering from diseases. "Stem cells can be used as a therapy in such situations. Breast milk produced, especially during the first five days after child birth, contains lots of cells not found in formula milk. We made an attempt to analyse various types of cells in breast milk," said Satish Patki, director of the Patki hospital and Research Foundation.
The study revealed the presence of stem cells which were cultured in a highly specialised laboratory, after they were isolated from the breast milk and later characterised in order to learn their importance.
The researchers said that a similar effort was done by Mark Cregan from Australia who also demonstrated the presence of stem–like cells in human milk in 2008. "However, his study did not document the potential of the cells. Our study not only documents the presence of stem cells but also the fact that if these cells are biochemically triggered and can produce insulin–secreting cells, bone cells and also fat cells," Patki said.
Bhonde said, "If these cells are isolated from human milk it can create miracles in the treatment of certain neonatal diseases, respiratory diseases and others which are important causes of infant mortality all over the world. In such situations, a liquid drug can me produced out of stem cells that can be given orally to babies."