Kansas State University has received a patent for procedures to develop what researchers called a plentiful and noncontroversial source of stem cells from a substance in umbilical cords.
The procedures isolate, culture and bank stem cells found in Wharton's jelly — the substance that cushions blood vessels in the umbilical cord.
The cells are called cord amtrix stem cells and are different from those obtained from the blood cells in umbilical cords, according to K-State researchers.
"While there are ethical controversies with stem cells gathered from other tissues in the body, stem cells in Wharton's jelly can be harvested noninvasively and therefore are not controversial," said Duane Davis, professor of animal sciences and industry.
Davis worked on the research with KSU anatomy and physiology professors Mark Weiss and Deryl Troyer and former KSU professor Kathy Mitchell.
Wharton's jelly contains well over a million stem cells, Davis said.
The researchers also found the stem cells in Wharton's jelly to be primitive in nature, meaning the cells could undergo more divisions than most adult stem cells. That gives them a wide range of regenerative potential and makes them useful for diverse applications, researchers said.
Some of those applications include healing injuries in humans and animals and treating cancer.