An unexpected, world-first stem cell discovery may lead to new treatments for placenta complications during pregnancy.
The discovery, made during research into stem cell production, paves the way for scientists to manufacture placenta tissue from adult cells.
While it is widely known that adult skin cells can be reprogrammed into cells similar to human embryonic stem cells — known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) — the same process could not create placenta tissue.
iPSCs opened up the potential for personalised cell therapies and new opportunities for regenerative medicine, safe drug testing and toxicity assessments. However little was known about exactly how they were made.
Monash University researchers, taking part in an international study with colleagues from Singapore, were in the process of studying how these cells were created when they chanced upon a way to create placenta cells as well.
The exciting discovery will enable further research into new treatments for placenta complications and the measurement of drug toxicity to placenta cells during pregnancy.
Monash University Professor Joso Polo, who led the team, said the discovery could provide the capacity to model human placenta in vitro and allow for new cell therapies.
“This is really important because iPSCs cannot give rise to placenta, thus all the advances in disease modelling and cell therapy that iPSCs have brought about did not translate to the placenta,” Professor Polo said.
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