Join 3,377 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


28 Days Later...more stem cells!
April 14, 2008 9:32 AM   Subscribe

Scientists have discovered that "endometrial regenerative cells" (ERC's) -- in other words, human menstrual blood -- contains stem cells. ERC-derived stem cells seem to have a number of superior traits to both bone marrow derived and umbilical cord derived stem cells, the previous gold standards: they can give rise to a variety of different cell lines without differentiation, they multiply more quickly than other stem cells, they are able to replicate more times without adversely mutating, and they apparently do not need to be closely genetically matched to the recipient. Now some women have even begun banking their menstrual blood to preserve their stem cells through a company called "C'Elle: Your Monthly Miracle" -- check out their FAQ and online video. This follows last May's announcement that menstrual blood derived cells can pretty much cure Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in mice, a disease for which there is no current therapeutic treatment available.
posted by Asparagirl (59 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
ERC-derived stem cells seem to have a number of superior traits to both bone marrow derived and umbilical cord derived stem cells

Some say they're just better, period.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:35 AM on April 14, 2008 [31 favorites]


[Spit take]
posted by Your Disapproving Father at 9:38 AM on April 14, 2008


I refuse to go with the flow and resort to feminine hygiene jokes.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:38 AM on April 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


.
posted by spicynuts at 9:38 AM on April 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Some say they're just better, period.

Thread closed. Please exit to the right, folks.
posted by jquinby at 9:38 AM on April 14, 2008


I propose a rule whereby any juvenile schmuck who feels compelled to make jokes about female anatomical processes is hereby barred from utilizing the life-saving medical treatments that may be derived from them.

So there!
posted by Asparagirl at 9:41 AM on April 14, 2008 [12 favorites]


these stem cells may also potentially be used to possibly benefit other family members who are genetically related to the donor, such as perhaps a parent, sibling or child.

Wow..could they perhaps maybe possibly hedge their bets any more, potentially?
posted by spicynuts at 9:41 AM on April 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


This changes nothing. The abortion debate, at least for most, is about women's rights. This source has the same fundamental issue, though it will likely be cloaked in some other objection.
posted by DU at 9:48 AM on April 14, 2008


I propose a rule whereby any juvenile schmuck who feels compelled to make jokes about female anatomical processes is hereby barred from utilizing the life-saving medical treatments that may be derived from them.

Not that I'm defending the joking about visits from "Aunt Flo", but man, if it was discovered that stem cells were found on the human male taint, this thread would already be a hell of a lot longer and about thrice as vulgar.

This is pretty exciting, though!
posted by Greg Nog at 9:48 AM on April 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


This does seem sort of miraculous.

So, if this is useful on a large scale, I wonder how on earth it will be collected. Will there be donation centers, like there are for blood plasma? Will women be paid?

Might there still be uses for fetal stem cells that these stem cells can't fulfill?
posted by Miko at 9:54 AM on April 14, 2008


I swear to God I had read "some women have even begun baking their menstrual blood". That left me completely baffled.
posted by matteo at 9:55 AM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Blood pudding? Red velvet cake?
posted by Asparagirl at 9:57 AM on April 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


As excellent as this discovery appears to be, this is one XX that gnashes her teeth upon reading the words "Your Monthly Miracle"...of course, I may be biased as a hormonal imbalance has resulted in a *nearly* ongoing period for the last six months.

All those potential replicators going to waste because I, and my never-ending cycle, reside in the medically-assbackwards region of Central Japan. I'm not bitter or nuthin'....
posted by squasha at 10:02 AM on April 14, 2008


Might there still be uses for fetal stem cells that these stem cells can't fulfill?

I think probably there are, but it's way too early in the game. Very encouraging result though, particularly for mice.
posted by Mister_A at 10:05 AM on April 14, 2008


No wonder Dave Foley had such a good attitude towards menstruation.
posted by piratebowling at 10:09 AM on April 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


In contrast, a woman's menstrual blood includes tissue shed from the endometrial lining of the uterus which potentially contains hundreds of millions of rich and abundant stem cells that can possibly be procured, processed, isolated, and cryopreserved. Ultimately, these stem cells may potentially be differentiated into many other cell types, which could possibly serve as a source for a wide range of regenerative therapies ranging from cardiac disease to diabetes, to anti-aging and wellness application

This is great and all, but it is so strongly equivocated that it makes me wonder if this is anything beyond wishful thinking.

Do they actually have an application for this yet? Or is it just a method of preserving the blood "just in case".

Our special limited-time introductory price for storage of a single specimen starts as low as $499 for processing and $99 annually for storage.

Oh, I see.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:12 AM on April 14, 2008


This is a pretty puny silver lining for my dark, crampy cloud. By the time they figure it out, I'll be in menopause!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:17 AM on April 14, 2008


I propose a rule whereby any juvenile schmuck who feels compelled to make jokes about female anatomical processes is hereby barred from utilizing the life-saving medical treatments that may be derived from them.

Blood pudding? Red velvet cake?

Ah-HA! No stem cells for YOU!!
posted by briank at 10:19 AM on April 14, 2008


I propose a rule whereby any juvenile schmuck who feels compelled to make jokes about female anatomical processes is hereby barred from utilizing the life-saving medical treatments that may be derived from them.

Oh, fuck that dudgeon.

You want equality of the sexes? Equality means your menses aren't profane OR sacred, and they're as good for a joke as a fart.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:20 AM on April 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


i'm all for stem cell research. i know a lot of people are against it, but i really don't understand why. but i can see a lot of whackos objecting to this because omg menstrual blood is dirty.

i imagine some sort of diva cup-like collection device.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:21 AM on April 14, 2008


Nope, I banked my son's umbilical cord blood. I'm good. Sorry for not pointing out the loophole earlier.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:21 AM on April 14, 2008


dammit! i already got rid of my uterus. i totally thought i wasn't going to need it, either.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:24 AM on April 14, 2008


I propose a rule whereby any juvenile schmuck who feels compelled to make jokes about female anatomical processes is hereby barred from utilizing the life-saving medical treatments that may be derived from them.

I am a-ok with period jokes, for the record. It's taboos that trouble me. And I think this is a pretty neat discovery.
posted by Tehanu at 10:24 AM on April 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Thank God. This is great news.

Now my wife can stop having the non-stop abortions she has been having since she learned that the stem cells could help science.
posted by flarbuse at 10:28 AM on April 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


Despite the possiblys, maybes, and potentiallys laced throughout, this is pretty cool.

And I totally laughed at Zen MasterThis's comment.
posted by rtha at 10:41 AM on April 14, 2008


Now my wife can stop having the non-stop abortions she has been having since she learned that the stem cells could help science.

Now we can stop hearing the non-stop stupidity that abortion must be legal so we can harvest stem cells.

If we had to ban stem cell research - and condemn millions to untold suffering - in order to protect a woman's right to choose, I'd do it without a second thought.
posted by three blind mice at 10:44 AM on April 14, 2008


And so this procedure will usher in to being a new medical term, "menstrual harvest," which sounds like something from a collection of misogynistic horror stories:

"Nurse, you may start the procedure," instructed Dr. Dephallica.
"But doctor, you can't-" the nurse retorted.
"Silence insolent wench!" he roared. He flapped his dangling index finger in her face menacingly. "Begin the menstrual harvest!"
"As you wish doctor," she responded meekly, "and may God help us all."
posted by Pastabagel at 10:52 AM on April 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


Menstrual blood as a commodity?

Does this mean my uterus is like a money tree? Then again, who will pay for it when they can get it for free...
posted by whimsicalnymph at 10:52 AM on April 14, 2008


You want equality of the sexes? Equality means your menses aren't profane OR sacred, and they're as good for a joke as a fart.

Hurf durf parity eater- hey, let's spent 2000 years where they're sacred, after the last 2000 of them being profane and maybe then we can even up?
posted by headspace at 10:53 AM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I really hope that one of these days science finds that men are good for something.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:55 AM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


menstrual harvest,

cotton pony roundup?
posted by three blind mice at 11:00 AM on April 14, 2008


I really wish this thread was more about the science and less about the arguing about the joking.
posted by ninjew at 11:01 AM on April 14, 2008


I really wish this thread was more about the science and less about the arguing about the joking.

If I didn't recognise your name I'd assume you were new here.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:19 AM on April 14, 2008


I'm all for stem cell research (really), but I'd sure wish that while they're focusing on the womanly blood, they'd figure out a cause for the endometriosis that is causing me and thousands of other women constant agony and infertility, and maybe a cure while they're at it. How friggen hard can it be. But then again, stem cell research = glamorous, and endometriosis = yucky.
posted by Koko at 12:09 PM on April 14, 2008


whimsicalnymph:

Menstrual blood as a commodity?

Does this mean my uterus is like a money tree? Then again, who will pay for it when they can get it for free...


One word...men.
posted by salishsea at 12:11 PM on April 14, 2008


"Not that I'm defending the joking about visits from "Aunt Flo", but man, if it was discovered that stem cells were found on the human male taint, this thread would already be a hell of a lot longer and about thrice as vulgar."


Please. We're amongst respectable company here. Let's keep the language civil.

It's a "twasn't."
posted by stenseng at 12:25 PM on April 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Speaking of Dave Foley et al: "You're scantily clad and have nothing to do with the narrative. Therefore, you're sexist."

Back to the blood: this is hardly surprising. During my weird little cancer scare in February, I learned all kinds of crazy about menstrual blood, such as my new favorite term and future band name: "retrograde menstruation." With retrograde menstruation, endometrial cells backwash out your fallopian tubes into your abdominal cavity and latch onto whatever organ they take a fancy to and start growing scar-tissue-y endometrial tissue. It sounds like those cells are a creative and productive bunch.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:44 PM on April 14, 2008


It sounds like those cells are a creative and productive bunch.

They also make a great adhesive, as any scan of my innards would show.

Plus it's a floor wax, AND a dessert topping!
posted by Koko at 12:59 PM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Let's you & me go into business selling menstrual superglue, Koko! Surgeons can use it to stick pesky organs together. It'll be great!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:12 PM on April 14, 2008


Me too, ladies! I just found out a couple of weeks ago that I have "severe" endometriosis, and essentially, "everything is stuck together." Give us a grant, dammit! Take my excess endometrium, please!

It is super creepy and fascinating that just a little piece of the uterine lining, wherever it is in your body, will grow and shed blood every month. Like a zombie. We have zombie lady-bits.
posted by chowflap at 1:23 PM on April 14, 2008


Yes! You know how when your gut accidentally gets sliced open, and all your innards fall out and it's all ropey and slippery and you're trying to stuff it all back in but it keeps squiggling around? I totally don't have that problem anymore, it just comes out in one big clump that I can easily tuck back inside. We can make a mint off this stuff!
posted by Koko at 1:23 PM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Better yet, we can don red face and put on a menstrual show. The Cramps can be the opening act!
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:24 PM on April 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


That is the greatest idea ever, Oriole Adams! My interior is super lux.

(Sorry. Bad Cramps joke).

Chowflap -- oh god, yeah. I forgot the phantom zombie bleedy bits. Urgh!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:27 PM on April 14, 2008


Seriously, it does seem like the kind of power that should be harnessed. Like this stem-cell idea. It makes perfect sense to me. (IANAScientist)
posted by chowflap at 1:44 PM on April 14, 2008


I for one am ready to donate to science. Excessively, and far too often.

Friggin' fibroids.
posted by jokeefe at 2:50 PM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm having a "worlds collide" kind of moment.

Today's mail, delivered after I wrote the FPP, had postcards addressed to both my husband and me inviting us to Gift Of Life's annual dinner. Gift Of Life is the Jewish-targeted bone marrow registry and donor program; we're both in the registry but have not (yet) been asked to donate. (Side note: you can order a kit to register yourself here, at $52 a pop. There's only one registry in the US, so they don't care if you're actually Jewish or not. People of minority or mixed ethnicities are especially needed to register!)

Anyway, so I was thinking, if collecting menstrual blood eventually becomes the be-all-end-all of stem cell harvesting, then people won't have to necessarily undergo the somewhat painful thigh bone biopsy that's currently needed to retrieve bone marrow for donation. Which would be great.

But then I realized that Orthodox Jewish males, such as some of the ones featured in photos on the Gift Of Life website's donor/recipient photos, probably wouldn't be able to receive stem cells that way -- because menstruating women are "unclean". *sigh*

And then I also thought, the problem with eventually using only women as the world's possible stem cell donors means that we've just cut the number of people registered as possible matches in the registries in half -- or more, since pre- and post-menopausal, pregnant, and amenorrhic-while-lactating women would also be excluded from the donor pool.

So I think the "regular" methods of stem cell harvesting will still be with us for quite a while yet, even though collecting ERC's seems to have so many more benefits.
posted by Asparagirl at 3:04 PM on April 14, 2008


Silly superstition is silly, but I'm sure they'll find a loophole.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:25 PM on April 14, 2008


let's spent 2000 years where they're sacred, after the last 2000 of them being profane and maybe then we can even up?

to be fair, i think--there were probably several thousand years of 'sacred' before we got to the 'profane' period of... periods. (vastly more human-hours, overall, surely.)

i confess to having a preliminary sense of "ha ha" a la Nelson thinking of all the religious nuts potentially having to choose between *living* and touching girl-juice. i guess that means i have no respect for religious tradition. dear me.
posted by RedEmma at 6:14 PM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


This sounds neat and would be great if it works out. Crazy to think that something that something that is thought of as waste and thrown out could be so lifesaving.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:42 PM on April 14, 2008


there were probably several thousand years of 'sacred'

Although I've read that many think it was exceedingly rare to the point of abnormal for women to menstruate until fairly recently in history (in the grand historic time-scale, of course), because many of them would be either pregnant or lactating for the entirety of their childbearing years. As a sign of fertility, it's a sign of non-fertility, so would it really be considered sacred? Seems more like it could be seen as wasteful or a potential sign of a problem rather than sacred.
posted by Miko at 6:46 PM on April 14, 2008


1. But then I realized that Orthodox Jewish males, such as some of the ones featured in photos on the Gift Of Life website's donor/recipient photos, probably wouldn't be able to receive stem cells that way -- because menstruating women are "unclean". *sigh*

2. i confess to having a preliminary sense of "ha ha" a la Nelson thinking of all the religious nuts potentially having to choose between *living* and touching girl-juice. i guess that means i have no respect for religious tradition. dear me.

I'm somewhere halfway between the *sigh* and the "ha ha" on this one. As a mother (ok, ok, only to feline and canine "children" at this point, but you get the hypothetical point), I think I'd be inclined to tell my religious leaders to get bent if they wanted to keep me from helping my child with stem cells.

However (and someone please correct me if I'm wrong) don't most modern Jewish traditions place a premium on preserving life? Does piku'ach nefesh, the "requirement to transgress Jewish law where one would save a life by doing so" not apply to Orthodox Jews? The Wikipedia entry says that piku'ach nefesh has limitations, and that the individual whose life is to be saved must be a specific, identifiable individual, rather than an abstract or potential beneficiary. So, in the case of say, donating my menstrually-derived stem cells to my child in order to save his or her life -- that's fine, but banking them is not?

It seems a little hair-splitty. Either you're compelled to save the lives or you're not. What takes precedence, Taharat haMishpacha or piku'ach nefesh?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:47 PM on April 14, 2008


Who would have guessed Shark Week could save more lives the
Rescue 911?
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 8:51 PM on April 14, 2008


dang. i meant of course to say that they would be choosing between *dying* and touching girl-juice.

i think that there's plenty of evidence worldwide to suggest that despite more time spent without bleeding, everything that came out of the sacred cunt (whether it was a new human or not) was to be feared and respected. the yoni was our first obsession. red and white have been long-standing sacred colors for a reason: menstrual blood and semen were the most visible emissions of humanity.
posted by RedEmma at 9:30 PM on April 14, 2008


I doubt the niddah laws would apply here. Even putting aside the potential life-saving aspect, niddah laws as observed today by the most observant Jews only forbid a man from touching or sharing certain space/objects with his wife, not menstrual blood itself (or even other menstrually impure women). In days when the temple was standing, different laws (whereby objects could become impure) applied, but by those standards everyone is impure today [and there is no means for making them pure since there is no temple standing.]
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:31 PM on April 14, 2008


If I have to be a PMS-ridden mess every fucking month, it would be nice if I knew someone* would benefit from it.

*Besides the makers of sweet/salty snacks, my therapist, and the local bar. /cliche
posted by Space Kitty at 10:20 PM on April 14, 2008


Asparagirl,

The title of your post: doubleplusgood - though I did wonder if you meant the flood of menstrual blood would leave only a ragged band of survivors

The name C'elle: doubleplusbad. Does the company also sponsor H'elle, for women contemplating the afterlife?
posted by lukemeister at 10:32 PM on April 14, 2008


[this is good]

"C'Elle: Your Monthly Miracle"

[this, however, is brain-meltingly stupid]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:45 AM on April 15, 2008


menstrual blood derived cells can pretty much cure Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in mice

No, it says that these cells can cause the genetically-engineered mice to express dystrophin in their muscle tissues. Doesn't say the mice got stronger or healthier. An antibody test coming up positive is not "pretty much" equivalent to a cure.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:10 AM on April 15, 2008


Yes, there is a difference between the paper saying "mice which previously couldn't produce dystrophin now can" and the paper saying "the mice are now stronger, too, as if they had always been able to produce dystrophin". The paper does not address the second issue, you're right.

But most research being done on curing DMD presumes that if you can restore a person's ability to create dystrophin, you fix the problem, or at least prevent it from getting worse. Check the Wikipedia discussion of current DMD research; it mostly involves either stem cell or gene therapy proposals to either inject or have the body start to create its own dystrophin -- or even just a close analogue. And there is already clinical trial research that says that if you repair a person with DMD's genes so that they can create dystrophin and not prematurely stop its synthesis (because there was an incorrect stop codon), then the person shows less progressive muscle deterioration. Actually giving people with DMD gene therapy to create their own dystrophin looks like it might work even better.

So....yes, exciting stuff.
posted by Asparagirl at 3:43 PM on April 16, 2008


« Older 13-year-old Andrew Johnston, bullied at school for...  |  3d renderings of the zodiac si... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments