Friday

a dialogue on organs, glands, stem cells


(photo by Mariah McClain)
First, I do welcome comments to this blog from all perspectives. While I stated yesterday I was no longer willing to respond to the comments of Anonymous because I felt we were deadlocked, I have essentially changed my mind (I know somewhat fickle). Anonymous (sorry I don't know your name) continue to comment if you so desire. All comments are first read by me before they are posted. I post almost anything except I refuse comments that are essentially advertising. I think it is important to continue to discuss differences of opinion even though those differences may never be resolved.
My understanding of the recent comments by Anonymous is that the scientific literature had only proved that stem cells reside in the mammary gland, an organ, not the secretions-the milk.
Following that belief, that would mean that prior to Cregan's "discovery," scientists would have believed that this gland at the cellular level was different from its secretion. One would suppose that since stem cells reside in the organ that there is a barrier between the organ and its secretions. There are a number of ways that a gland secretes its fluids. The mammary gland according to Taber's Medical Dictionay secretes by a method called apocrine, "secretions form in the apical ends of cells, which breaks off and forms part of the secretion." There is documentation that the epithelial cells are sloughed off into human milk (1980's--Neville & Neifert). According to Neville et al., "Milk is produced by epithelial cells which line the mammary alveoli and is stored in the alveolar lumina adjacent to these cells." And repeating myself Lawrence states, "The epithelial cells of the gland contain stem cells..." Yet no one until recently believed that stem cells were in the milk?
Margaret Stampfer (who I have written about before) created the HMEC (Human Mammary Epithelial Cells) cell lines in the early 80's. She is the inventor to a patent on this cell line, and the US Government owns this patent. These cells lines are used because they have "immortality." Reading some of Stampfer's newsletters on her cell line, I read that she not only made the cell line from the mammary gland but also derived the cell line from human milk(because breastmilk contains epithelial cells). She observed the immortality (it's ability to continue to grow) of these cells. She recognized the value of such cells for research. From reading her newsletter, one can feel her enthusiasm and wish to freely share her research and even the cell lines to other researchers. HMEC cell lines are used to study toxins and its effect on the cells of the body. Researchers are still using HMEC cell lines (of course one has to buy them).
Let's fast forward to more recent times. I have an abstract dated 2005 entitled, "Towards the identification of stem cells in a novel human mammary epithelial culture (HMEC) system that reproducibly demonstrates ductal organotypic architecture in 3 weeks."
A scientific discovery is based on the previous work and thoughts of other scientists. Often scientists are working along the same lines of thought and it becomes a race to see who will bring evidence of discovery to society. When patents are involved, it may become a race to present before anyone else does. I have a very different view point regarding this discovery because I think stem cells in human milk were an understood concept that was not articulated publicly. It is the base knowledge of the 2000 + patents and pending patents on human milk components. The NIH wrote in the 90s that the "mammary gland was the protein factory of the future." Taking at face, what is a protein factory? Proteins are essential to "growth." Stem cells are about growth...immortality in a sense. It's all very poetic, if you think about it. The human mammary gland can be viewed as a fountain of youth. The mammary gland is the tree of life. Mothers have instinctively known this for thousand of years, but science is compelled to "discovery it" and "prove it."
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain
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6/14/13----Noticed that this post was being read and reread the long comment by my friend anonymous.  I am not sure why I didn't respond in 2008--obviously irritated with Anonymous.  Found a corrected url for the above. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a458461.pdf

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