A Big Jar and Some Pads, Please — Menarche Becomes a Gold Mine

Women’re good for something.

Japanese researchers have harvested stem cells from human menstrual blood. These stem cells could potentially be a source of specialized heart cells, which might be used to treat failing or damaged hearts.

You know, I could use a second income.

At the meeting of the American College of Cardiology here, Dr. Shunichiro Miyoshi reported that he and his colleagues at Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, collected menstrual blood from six women and harvested stem cells that originated in the lining of the uterus, the endometrium.

They were able to obtain about thirty times more stem cells from menstrual blood than from bone marrow, Miyoshi told Reuters Health.

When the stem cells were cultured in a way to induce them to become heart cells, after five days about half of the cells contracted “spontaneously, rhythmical and synchronously, suggesting the presence of electrical communication” between the cells, Miyoshi announced. That is to say, they behaved like heart cells.

Sometimes science is really, really cool.

The researcher explained that already stem cells derived from bone marrow have been shown to improve the function of the heart — mainly by producing new blood vessels rather than new heart-muscle tissue. He emphasized that it is important that these cells be obtained from younger patients, because they would have a longer lifespan than cells harvested from older donors.

Never mind. I thought I could make a quick buck, but I’m already past my sell-by date.


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20 comments for “A Big Jar and Some Pads, Please — Menarche Becomes a Gold Mine

  1. March 13, 2006 at 7:26 pm

    Lauren,

    Check your e-mail. I sent you a science article that sounds like it is perfect for a Feministe analysis.

  2. kate
    March 13, 2006 at 7:44 pm

    What is old? I’m game. I produce plenty of those little cells, believe me to generate all kinds of fun experiments and have some more to spare.

    Send me the form, pads and preferably, a menstrustation extraction device so I may denude myself of these cells all in one fell swoop each month.

  3. kate
    March 13, 2006 at 7:45 pm

    Share it Tangoman!

  4. March 13, 2006 at 7:46 pm

    The article is here:
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-03/ps-bir031306.php

    Give me a few hours and I’ll get a post up.

    UPDATE: Okay, I lied. Life got in the way. Tomorrow?

  5. Kyra
    March 13, 2006 at 8:14 pm

    Sweet.

    Just heart cells? Or can they grow into other things?

    What I’d like to see stem cells used for is to grow replacement nerves and tissue for victims of female genital mutilation who want their ability to enjoy sex restored to them.

    (Why do I get the feeling they’ll come up with a stem-cell cure for erectile disfunction long before that ever happens?)

  6. human
    March 13, 2006 at 8:33 pm

    Holy crap! That is SO COOL!

    Except that these scientists are now going to be inundated with offers of menstrual blood. hehehehehe.

  7. karpad
    March 13, 2006 at 8:56 pm

    …so Japanese scientists (read “dirty old men”) have a “medical breakthrough” that means they are allowed to solicit menstrual materials.
    but only from “young subjects.”
    …riiiiight.

    sorry, snarky.

  8. ballgame
    March 13, 2006 at 9:41 pm

    Kyra: stem cells used … to grow replacement nerves and tissue for victims of female genital mutilation

    I think that would be a great idea … but in this country, there’s about a million times more victims of male genital mutilation.

    Just sayin’.

  9. March 13, 2006 at 11:16 pm

    Hooray for all those who have from menorrhagia!

    *snort*

  10. March 13, 2006 at 11:37 pm

    Totally cool! There’s a stem cell source that wouldn’t run dry any time soon.

  11. March 14, 2006 at 12:06 am

    That’s so frigging cool.

    And that link strikes me as limited–by focusing on very young people, they max out the possibilities that the people involved have narrow views of self. Older women who like their looks are probably likely to have as many or few partners as they like, but I imagine both sexes get wise about protection.

  12. Nymphalidae
    March 14, 2006 at 1:15 am

    Sweet. I will grow my grandma a new heart. Where do I sign up for trials?

  13. March 14, 2006 at 9:02 am

    How soon will this be another reason for the state to own uteri and make sure it’s available for its own purposes?

  14. Kristen from MA
    March 14, 2006 at 10:18 am

    ballgame said: I think that would be a great idea … but in this country, there’s about a million times more victims of male genital mutilation.

    excuse me? i know for a fact that circumsized men can and do enjoy sex, since their sexual organs remain intact, if altered. mutilated women have had their most sensitve sexual organs hacked away. and they don’t just not feel pleasure, but in fact feel pain during sex.

    you’re certainly entitled to your opinion on circumcision, but please don’t trivialize the issue of female genital mutilation. it is one of the worst symptoms of the worldwide oppression of women.

  15. March 14, 2006 at 10:42 am

    Since the thread is probably about to derail anyway, Id like to add that male foreskin is used for it’s great power to initiate skin growth (for burn victims, research, etc.).
    It’s actually my friend’s job to go from hospital to hospital all day and collect foreskin from circumcisions. How about that for a job you dont want to discuss over dinner?

  16. March 14, 2006 at 10:52 am

    I posted about this at my place, and it got the best comment ever from Thesaurus Rex:

    If we could run cars on that women might finally get paid what they are truly worth.

    Heh.

  17. March 14, 2006 at 11:18 am

    I’m curious about the science behind this, and where, exactly, the stem cells come from. Given the number of unfertilized – and often, fertilized – eggs that are flushed as part of the menstrual cycle, I wonder if there is, in effect, more than one kind of menstrual stem cell. Then, maybe, I should keep such thoughts to myself. The last thing we need is the equation of “using menstrual blood to extract stem cells” with “experimenting on babies.”

  18. Kyra
    March 14, 2006 at 12:27 pm

    I think that would be a great idea … but in this country, there’s about a million times more victims of male genital mutilation.

    That are completely prevented from feeling any sexual pleasure whatsoever? Unless there’s millions of men with their penises hacked off and their urethras sewn closed so it takes ten minutes to piss, please shut the fuck up. Or is it that since they’re men, they’re entitled to have all their smallest problems fixed before women get a chance at having much greater injuries repaired?

    Can’t get more “male privilege” than a guy who thinks the loss of his foreskin is comparable to the loss of a woman’s clitoris (among other things).

  19. Kyra
    March 14, 2006 at 12:29 pm

    I think that would be a great idea … but in this country, there’s about a million times more victims of male genital mutilation.

    That are completely prevented from feeling any sexual pleasure whatsoever? Unless there’s millions of men with their penises hacked off and their urethras sewn closed so it takes ten minutes to piss, please shut the fuck up. Or is it that since they’re men, they’re entitled to have all their smallest problems fixed before women get a chance at having much greater injuries repaired?

    Can’t get more “male privilege” than a guy who thinks the loss of his foreskin is comparable to the loss of a woman’s clitoris (among other things).

    Tags. Sorry. Delete my last, would you please, Lauren?

  20. ballgame
    March 14, 2006 at 9:50 pm

    Kyra: Your responses to my brief post make me sad, angry, and puzzled.

    You made a suggestion about how it would be nice if the stem cell research could benefit certain horribly-treated women … and I endorsed your suggestion.

    I added, however, that only an extremely small number of women in this country had been mistreated this way … and that is factually correct.

    I also added that a similar fate had befallen males in this country, and male victims outnumbered female victims by an outrageously large ratio … and that is also factually correct.

    I never said that male circumcision was equally as bad as female circumcision. But it is only trivial to the ignorant, and I do believe that all humans are entitled to intact bodies, and to be free of the painful trauma of genital mutilation. In the U.S., this problem affects males almost exclusively, and yet the merest mention of these facts somehow entitles you to smear me with the baseless charge of defending “male privilege” and to tell me to “shut the fuck up”.

    I don’t believe in male privilege, Kyra. I believe in human rights. MY version does not come with gender blinders.

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