From Daily News Central's Health News...
University of Pittsburgh researchers have discovered that one type of cell in the human placenta has characteristics that are strikingly similar to embryonic stem cells in their ability to regenerate a wide variety of tissues.
The cells, called amniotic epithelial cells, potentially could be used to produce new liver cells to treat liver failure, or new pancreatic islet cells to cure diabetes or new neurons to treat Parkinson's disease.
Unlike embryonic stem cells, which are obtained only by destroying human embryos, these cells can be extracted from the same placentas that now are routinely discarded after birth. They thus could be a non-controversial alternative to embryonic stem cells.
"We think it would be easier to get these to the clinic than [embryonic stem] cells," said Stephen Strom, an associate professor of pathology at the Pitt medical school.