CORDIS - EU research results

Understanding the identity of the amniotic fluid stem cells

Project description

Unravelling the therapeutic potential of amniotic fluid stem cells

Amniotic fluid, known for its trophic and supportive role in embryonic development, contains a small population of cells known as amniotic fluid stem cells (AFSCs). Although these cells are exploited for prenatal diagnostic purposes, little is known about their origin or role. The scope of the EU-funded AmnioticID project is to determine the lineage identity of these cells and their role in development using next generation sequencing and in vivo lineage tracing approaches. Results will pave the way for the isolation and expansion of these cells for regenerative medicine strategies.


The amniotic fluid surrounds and protects the foetus during development, providing trophic and mechanical support to its growth. This liquid contains a variety of cells shedding from embryonic and extra-embryonic tissues that have long been utilised for prenatal diagnosis. In a seminal 2007 article, Professor De Coppi identified in the amniotic fluid, a small population of cells with broad multi-lineage differentiation ability defined as Amniotic Fluid Stem Cells (AFSCs). AFSCs can be isolated, expanded and differentiated during gestation, making them ideal for the development of pre-/perinatal autologous regenerative medicine strategies. In the last decade, a series of studies focused on investigating the therapeutic relevance of the AFSCs for various tissue compartments, such as skeletal and cardiac muscle, lung and liver. However, very little is known about the AFSCs origin, lineage identity and role during human development. This knowledge gaps have relevant impact on these cells' clinical translation and a list of important questions remains to be addressed: Which tissue releases the AFSCs? Are these cells constantly generated, or part of a self-renewing niche? What is the function of the AFSCs during human development? This proposal aims at addressing these questions, by using a combination of next generation sequencing analyses, cell biology assays and in vivo linage tracing approaches. Ultimately defining the origin and identity of the AFSCs will not only increase our knowledge of their physiological role, but will also allow to better direct future studies on their therapeutic implications. Thanks to this project, I will gain a comprehensive, multi-faceted understanding of the biology and regenerative potential of AFSCs. This will open up new research agendas, foster international collaborations and provide me valuable transferrable skills of crucial relevance to develop my independent career, in line with the mission of the Marie Curie action.


Net EU contribution
€ 212 933,76
WC1E 6BT London
United Kingdom

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London Inner London — West Camden and City of London
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 212 933,76