It is incumbent upon regenerative medicine researchers to discover non-controversial sources of stem cells that are safe and abundant. To that end, harvesting stem cells from deceased donors might represent an innovative and potentially unlimited reservoir of different stem cells.
In this present study, tissues from the blood vessels of cadavers were used as a source of human cadaver mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (hC-MSCs). The scientists in this paper successfully isolated cells from arteries after the death of the patient and subjected them to cryogenic storage in a tissue-banking facility for at least 5 years.
After thawing, the hC-MSCs were re-isolated with high-efficiency (12 × 10) and showed all the usual characteristics of mesenchymal stromal cells. They expressed all the proper markers, were able to differentiate into the right cell types, and showed the same immunosuppressive activity as mesenchymal stromal cells from living persons.
Thus the efficient procurement of stem cells from cadavers demonstrates that such cells can survive harsh conditions, low oxygen tensions, and freezing and dehydration. This paves the way for a scientific revolution where cadaver stromal/stem cells could effectively treat patients who need cell therapies.
See Sabrina Valente, and others, Human cadaver multipotent stromal/stem cells isolated from arteries stored in liquid nitrogen for 5 years. Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2014, 5:8.