Researchers Report Alternative Stem Cell Source In Amniotic Fluid

Scientists say they've found a new and plentiful source of stem cells that could provide an alternative to embryonic stem cells.

Researchers at Wake Forest and Harvard report they have drawn stem cells from amniotic fluid donated by pregnant women. They say those cells were successfully turned into several different tissue cell types, including brain, liver and bone.

The report follows seven years of research and appears in the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology. In it, the researchers say they were able to extract the cells without harming either the mother or the fetus.

However, the scientists note that they don't know how many different cell types can be made from the stem cells found in amniotic fluid. And even preliminary tests in patients are years away.

Human embryonic stem cell research has been hotly debated. Many people, including President Bush, oppose the destruction of embryos for any reason.