You want to use a young source of stem cells for regeneration and healing, but what if you don’t have any young stem cells that are a genetic match to you? Typically, tissues and organs that are transplanted from one person to another require life-long immunosuppressive therapy with drugs or surgery. Otherwise, your immune system will recognize that the newly introduced tissue is not your own and will attack it. Luckily, in the case of stem cells, nature has already figured out a solution. Can you think of a situation where someone else’s cells naturally survive (and even thrive) inside of another person’s body?
Pregnancy. So why doesn’t the mother’s immune system attack the baby’s cells with different DNA? The answer is the placenta. The placenta has special cloaking mechanisms to hide the baby’s cells and tissues from the mother’s immune system. However, evading the mother’s immune system is not it’s only function. The placenta is an organ that orchestrates and assists the growth and development of all types of tissues required to make a baby. The placenta must also grow as the baby grows. Recently, scientists discovered that the placenta continuously remodels itself using stem cells and growth factors. The cloaking and supportive powers of a placenta can be harnessed and used after the baby is born, without rejection by the host. This has been done for over 100 years. Placenta tissues, such as amniotic membranes, have been successfully and extensively used and studied for healing various tissues, such as eyes,[3, 4] skin,[5, 6] tendons and ligaments. Human placenta tissues have been in clinical literature since 1910, and ample studies since that time have demonstrated the safety of their use for healing. Successful tissue healing has been demonstrated with both fresh or dehydrated placenta tissues because of the growth factors present. Truly, placenta tissues offer some unique qualities and possibilities to enhance healing, reduce scar tissue formation and modulate inflammation, to replicate healthy, pre-injury or pre-diseased tissue.
- Medscape. Immunosuppression: Overview. 1/4/2016 [Date Accessed: 1/2018]; Available from: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/432316-overview.
- Lovell, T.M., et al., Identification of a novel mammalian post-translational modification, phosphocholine, on placental secretory polypeptides. J Mol Endocrinol, 2007. 39(3): p. 189-98.
- De Rötth, A., Plastic repair of conjunctival defects with fetal membranes. Archives of ophthalmology, 1940. 23(3): p. 522-525.
- Lee, S.-H. and S.C. Tseng, Amniotic membrane transplantation for persistent epithelial defects with ulceration. American journal of ophthalmology, 1997. 123(3): p. 303-312.
- Serena, T.E., et al., A multicenter, randomized, controlled clinical trial evaluating the use of dehydrated human amnion/chorion membrane allografts and multilayer compression therapy vs. multilayer compression therapy alone in the treatment of venous leg ulcers. Wound Repair and Regeneration, 2014. 22(6): p. 688-693.