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Biochem Soc Trans. 2014 Jun;42(3):631-5. doi: 10.1042/BST20140069.

Engineering tissue for the fetus: stem cells and matrix signalling.

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*Surgery Unit, University College London, 30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EH, U.K.


Congenital malformations are major causes of disease and death during the first years of life and, most of the time, functional replacement of the missing or damaged organs remains an unmet clinical need. Particularly relevant for the treatment of congenital malformation would be to collect the stem cells at diagnosis, before birth, to be able to intervene during the gestation or in the neonatal period. Human AFSCs (amniotic fluid stem cells), which have characteristics intermediate between those of embryonic and adult stem cells, have been isolated. c-Kit+Lin- cells derived from amniotic fluid display a multilineage haemopoietic potential and they can be easily reprogrammed to a pluripotent status. Although, in the future, we hope to use cells derived from the amniotic fluid, we and others have proved recently that simple organs such as the trachea can be engineered using adult progenitors utilizing decellularized cadaveric matrices. A similar approach could be used in the future for more complex organs such as the muscles, intestines or lungs.

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