Brain Cells Made from Urine
2012-12-19 0:00

By Monya Baker | ScientificAmerican.com

Human excreta could be a powerful source of cells to study disease, bypassing some of the problems of using stem cells, such as the risk of developing tumors and difficulties in obtaining blood samples from children.

Some of the waste that humans flush away every day could become a powerful source of brain cells to study disease, and may even one day be used in therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. Scientists have found a relatively straightforward way to persuade the cells discarded in human urine to turn into valuable neurons.


Getting neurons from cells discarded in urine, may one day help develop therapies for neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease.
The technique, described online in a study in Nature Methods this week, does not involve embryonic stem cells. These come with serious drawbacks when transplanted, such as the risk of developing tumors. Instead, the method uses ordinary cells present in urine, and transforms them into neural progenitor cells — the precursors of brain cells. These precursor cells could help researchers to produce cells tailored to individuals more quickly and from more patients than current methods.

Researchers routinely reprogram cultured skin and blood cells into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which can go on to form any cell in the body. But urine is a much more accessible source.

Stem-cell biologist Duanqing Pei and his colleagues at China’s Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, had previously shown that kidney epithelial cells in urine could be reprogrammed into iPS cells.

However, in that study the team used retroviruses to insert pluripotency genes into cells — a common technique in cell reprogramming. This alters the genetic make-up of cells and can make them less predictable, so in this study, Pei and his colleagues introduced the genes using vectors which did not integrate in the cellular genome.

One of their experiments produced round colonies of reprogrammed cells from urine that resembled pluripotent stem cells after only 12 days — about half the time usually required to produce iPS cells. When cultured further, the colonies took on the rosette shape common to neural stem cells.

Tumor-free

Pei and his colleagues transferred the cells to a growth medium used for neurons, and found that these reprogrammed cells went on to form functional neurons in the lab.

When the team repeated the experiment and transplanted the cells into newborn rat brains, the cells did not form tumors. Instead, when the brains were examined four weeks later, the cells had taken on the shape and molecular markers of neurons.

[...]


Read the full article at: scientificamerican.com







Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

Viking Ship Construction - by the Museum in Roskilde, Denmark
2015-03-31 19:54
(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));[6] #FraVragTilVirkelighed: Smidige planker Vikingeskibene er bygget af frisk træ. Konstruktionen er let og fleksibel og har stillet store krav til materialekvalitet. Som grundprincip følges træets naturlige strukturer for at opnå ...
60 Years of Research Links Gluten Grains to Schizophrenia
2015-03-31 1:05
Does the consumption of gluten-containing grains contribute to psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia? Believe it or not, this question has been asked for well over 60 years by researchers who stumbled upon evidence that the removal of gluten from the diet results in improved symptoms, or conversely, that gluten grain consumption leads to higher prevalence of both neurological and psychiatric problems. Reports ...
Thousands of migrants dumped on Britain as French wriggle out of border promise
2015-03-30 19:56
Thousands of migrants could be dumped on Britain’s doorstep if France tears up a historic border agreement, it was claimed last night. Officials have vowed to do “everything in their power” to wriggle out of a treaty moving the UK border to Calais. The besieged town’s mayor Natacha Bouchart is prepared to spark a major diplomatic row by opening the frontier ...
Richard III laid to rest at Leicester Cathedral
2015-03-30 18:36
King Richard III was today laid to rest at Leicester Cathedral - more than 500 years after his death in battle. The monarch, who reigned from 1483 to 1485, was the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. Actor Benedict Cumberbatch read a poem by Carol Ann Duffy during the service. Also in attendance was Robert Lindsay, who played Richard III in a version ...
Sweden - A new paradise for Romani beggars
2015-03-30 17:33
Thanks to the European Union and freedom of movement that follows with membership Sweden has been flooded with gypsies from Eastern Europe. Most member states have cracked down hard on the phenomenon of organized begging with legislation and forceful evictions so the Romani (colloquially known as Gypsies) who are engaged in this venture have moved their business to the country where ...
More News »