New Discovery – Breast Milk Contains Stem Cells
We all know about the controversy over stem cell research. As well as other sources, the most well-know type of stem cells are those found in human embryos, which are destroyed to harvest the stem cells.
Scientists have made great advances in finding ethical sources of stem cells, but now Australian researchers have discovered a potential goldmine of stem cells – in breastmilk!
Unborn babies are basically made from stem cells, the placenta supports stem cells, umbilical cord blood contains stem cells (and companies exist who will save and store that cord blood for your baby) so researchers wondered if the next step of a baby’s development – birth, and nursing after birth – might involve stem cells too. They tested breastmilk, and discovered it did indeed contain stem cells.
Scientists still don’t understand much about what the function of these stem cells are, but breastmilk is ethical, widely available and inexpensive for researchers to use. If the breastmilk stem cells can be used in place of embryonic stem cells, then scientists will potentially be able to use them in therapies for an enormous range of diseases like cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Nice work, Australian scientists!