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Open Access Medical Terminations of Pregnancy: A Viable Source of Tissue for Cell Replacement Therapy for Neurodegenerative Disorders

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“Proof-of-principle” that cell replacement therapy works for neurodegeneration has been reported, but only using donor cells collected from fetal brain tissue obtained from surgical terminations of pregnancy. Surgical terminations of pregnancy represent an increasingly limited supply of donor cells due to the tendency towards performing medical termination in much of Europe. This imposes a severe constraint on further experimental and clinical cell transplantation research. Therefore, we explore here the feasibility of using medical termination tissue as a donor source. Products of conception were retrieved from surgical terminations over the last 7 years and from medical terminations over the last 2.5 years. The number of collections that yielded fetal tissue, viable brain tissue, and identifiable brain regions (ganglionic eminence, ventral mesencephalon, and neocortex) were recorded. We studied cell viability, cell physiological properties, and differentiation potential both in vitro and following transplantation into the central nervous system of rodent models of neurodegenerative disease. Within equivalent periods, we were able to collect substantially greater numbers of fetal remains from medical than from surgical terminations of pregnancy, and the medical terminations yielded a much higher proportion of identifiable and dissectible brain tissue. Furthermore, we demonstrate that harvested cells retain the capacity to differentiate into neurons with characteristics appropriate to the region from which they are dissected. We show that, contrary to widespread assumption, medical termination of pregnancy-derived fetal brain cells represent a feasible and more readily available source of human fetal tissue for experimental cell transplantation with the potential for use in future clinical trials in human neurodegenerative disease.

Keywords: Human fetal tissue; Neural transplantation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Brain Repair Group, School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK

Publication date: 2011-04-01

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.
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