Formation of brain cells from simple cells of urine

Researchers have utilized the cells in human urine to make brain cells.

This research has been published online in the journal Nature Methods.

In this study, researchers have found that the human excreta could be powerfully used to study different diseases thereby help us in overcoming some of the problems of utilizing stem cells. Not only this but it can also help us one day to control neurodegenerative diseases.

Researchers in this study presented the clear-cut way to utilize the cells in the human urine to be converted into valuable neurons. Interestingly, researchers have not used the stem cells, which can result in the development of tumors upon transplantation; instead they used simple cells and converted them into neural progenitor cells, which are the originator of brain cells. These are precursor cells and can be easily used in different individuals than the current procedures.

Neural Progenitor cells (Credit: Prof Chandran lab, University of Edinburgh)

Researchers reprogrammed the common cells by inserting the pluripotency genes into the cells with the help of vectors – gene transferring agents – that did not join together the cellular genome.

In one of the experiments, researchers found the round colonies of reprogrammed cells resembling the pluripotent stem cells after just 12 days, which is nearly half the time needed to make induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. After sometime the colonies took the rosette shape same to the neural stem cells. These cells when moved to the growth medium of neurons, they made the functional neurons in the lab.

When researchers used these cells into newborn rat brains, they developed just like neurons without the formation of tumors.

Researchers wrote, “Although functional in vivo analysis is still needed, we report that the cells survive and differentiate upon transplant into newborn rat brain.”

This has been found one of the best non-invasive procedures for the production of brain cells.

Reference:

Wang, L., Wang, L., Huang, W., Su, H., Xue, Y., Su, Z., Liao, B., Wang, H., Bao, X., Qin, D., He, J., Wu, W., So, K., Pan, G., & Pei, D. (2012). Generation of integration-free neural progenitor cells from cells in human urine Nature Methods DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.2283

  • Nick Sarbicki

    It’s not just a non-invasive way to produce neural cultures, it’s also a relatively simple, risk-free and ethically acceptable way to produce human neural cultures giving much more translatable research!

    That said, when you say that they didn’t produce stem cells, that’s not strictly true. The cells produced were not totipotent (can create an entire animal from a single cell, also themost likely to form a teratoma), nor were they pluripotent (can form any organ or system in the body, but not an entire animal, still very likely to become a teratoma). But they were multipotent (able to become any cell that is part of an organ/system, unlikely to form a teratoma). Multipotent cells are a type of stem cell, just much weaker and less talked about than pluripotent and totipotent cells.