Researchers in Australia have found stem cells in breast milk that, like embryonic stem cells, can become many different types of cells in the body.
Dr Foteini Hassiotou and the Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group at the University of Western Australia have found stem cells in human breast milk that they have turned into bone, brain, liver, and pancreatic cells that produce insulin. From ABCScience.com:
Five years ago, Dr Foteini Hassiotou was part of a research team, the Hartmann Human Lactation Research Group at the University of Western Australia, which discovered that human breast milk contains what appear to be stem cells. These cells can potentially turn into many different types of cells, and offer staggering potential for treating a huge range of human diseases.
Hassiotou, the newest member of the group, found that some of these stem cells are very similar to embryonic stem cells — the most potent and useful stem cell of all.
Except the “potent and useful” stem cells found in breast milk do not require the destruction of human embryos to harvest them like embryonic stem cells. The stem cells in human breast milk are easily collected without surgery. The next step would be to investigate how these adult stem cells behave in animal models.
Human breast milk may be more than just nourishment for newborns. It may contain hope for a multitude of diseases. Hope that does not require the destruction of innocent human life.