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expert reaction to study collecting foetal stem cells and growing organoids

A study published in Nature Communications looks at collecting foetal stem cells from amniotic and tracheal fluids and growing organoids. 


Prof Roger Sturmey, Professor of Reproductive Medicine, University of Hull, said:

“This is a high-quality piece of work by Gerli and colleagues who have taken considerable care to demonstrate the ability to generate organoids that model fetal tissues with cells collected from amniotic fluid.  The authors describe how cells from the developing fetus may be found in the fluids that surround the fetus whilst it is in the uterus.  Taking samples of amniotic fluid during pregnancy is an established method called amniocentesis, which doctors can use to examine the presence of certain conditions during pregnancy.  This new paper has confirmed the presence of cells from the fetus within this fluid. Using leading edge molecular techniques, the research team have been able to determine the ‘molecular identity’ of many of these cells, and identified the fetal organ from which the cells originate. 

“Remarkably, the research team have then been able to culture these cells in a laboratory, where they have formed organoids – 3-dimensional structures that resemble certain aspects of an organ.  Organoids typically contain only a selection of the cell types found in a full organ, and in this research, organoids formed from the epithelial cells, which are the cells that line many organs.  The team were able to generate organoids that model lung, kidney, and intestinal tissue from fetal cells in the amniotic fluid. 

“This research paves the way for scientists to study how key organs are formed and perform their function in the developing fetus during pregnancy, without the need for tissue extracted directly from a fetus – which is typically only available from tissue that is donated to research following the termination of a pregnancy.  It may also reveal early origins of adult disease by highlighting what happens when the cells of key tissues within fetuses malfunction.”



Single-cell guided prenatal derivation of primary fetal epithelial organoids from human amniotic and tracheal fluids’ by Mattia Gerli et al. was published in Nature Medicine at 16:00 UK Time Monday 4 March 2024.


DOI: 10.1038/s41591-024-02807-z



Declared interests

no reply to our request for DOIs was received.

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