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Researches on stem cells from new-born babies yield hopes

15 May 2009 / 18:05:12  GRReporter
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When Chinese scientists have created synthetic ovaries from stem cells for women experiencing difficulties getting pregnant, a discovery was made in Greece that more than 50 000 stem cell cultures retrieved from the navel strings of new-born babies (and at least a million all over the world) are not at all used!

The stem cells are stored in private banks but as for now they cannot be used. What is certain is that for the storage of every culture parents pay between 1500 and 2000 euro, and the private banks in Greece have already reached the record number of 20!

The scientists clarify that: “If we have in mind what medicine is capable of nowadays, none of the things promised by the private stem cells storage banks can be accomplished. The cells can only be of help for other patients, and not for the person they were taken from. Therefore, they can only be used if stored in a public bank, which would provide cultures for those that need them. This is why the public banks need to be supported,” says Dr. Stelios Grafakos in “Elefteros Typos” newspaper.

The private banks store the blood samples, so they can be used just by the child, from whom they were retrieved, or members of his/her family. The pamphlets say that the cells can be used to treat various forms of leukemia, cancer, metabolic diseases and immune system deficiencies.

“The method employed”, however, “is almost forbidden, since the results are not quite successful. Another reason is that in most of the cases the diseases are linked to the genetic profile of the patient, and the stem cells carry the same genetic material that caused the condition” dr. Grafakos clarifies.

The only public bank in Greece is located in the Institute of biomedical examinations at the Athenian science academy, and the blood is stored for free. Each sample may be given to the patient despite of his location and every donor has access to the world storage bank with the right, if needed, to take a sample from there.

Meanwhile, the green light has been given for the creation of eggs from stem cells, giving hopes to women experiencing obstacles while trying to get pregnant. Chinese scientists from Jiao Tong university in Shanghai had retrieved stem cells from new-born mice and their adult mothers and cultivated them for a couple of months. Afterwards, they grafted the cells in the ovaries of sterile female mice which consequently carried a healthy offspring.

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