Could “the curse” become the cure? It could happen, if Japanese scientists have their way. Experiments performed at the Keio University school of medicine have succeeded in growing sheets of heart muscle from connective tissue cells harvested from menstrual blood.
According to Shunichiro Miyoshi, a cardiologist with the Keio University team, cells in women’s menstrual blood have properties similar to those of embryonic stem cells, which can transform themselves into a variety of different cell types as the body requires.
When it comes to growing heart muscle, however, the connective tissue cells in menstrual blood have a success rate 100 times higher than the 0.2 – 0.3 percent for stem cells taken from human bone marrow.
When the researchers cultured the cells derived from menstrual blood for one month, then placed them in close proximity to rat heart muscle cells cultured in vitro, they were astounded to see the transformed connective tissue cells beating right along with the rat cells!
The long term goal of the research is to duplicate in humans what has been achieved in rats – improvements in heart health following heart attacks in rats who were treated with the cultured cells.
Shunichiro Miyoshi suggests that one day in the future, women will be able to culture their own menstrual blood to create a personalized stockpile of cells. By doing so, they will build up a reservoir of repair cells that will not cause a reaction from the body’s immune system.
Well ladies, are you up to this? Comfortable with processing your monthly flood and saving it for a “rainy day”? Would you gladly wear a fashion accessory resembling a red colostomy bag? Don’t make that face – the life you save just may be your own. Period.