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Cells found in urine  (Source: Nature)
The process could help those with neurodegenerative diseases

Researchers have found a new way of producing neurons for those with neurodegenerative conditions: taking cells from our urine.

A team of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, led by Duanqing Pei, have found a way to extract ordinary cells from human urine and reprogram them into functional neurons that can assist in the study and potential treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

The new method strays away from the use of embryonic stem cells, which are known to cause tumors and pose ethical dilemmas, as well as traditional techniques for obtaining stem cells such as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). Typically, iPSCs come from the blood, but they cannot be obtained in large quantities and they are patient-specific, meaning certain cells must come from certain patients in order to be helpful forms of treatment.

Instead, the team of Chinese scientists cells were isolated from the urine of three different patients aged 10, 25 and 37. These cells were transformed into neural progenitors, which are entry-level brain cells.

From there, the cells were grown in Petri dishes with a medium that helped the cells convert into mature neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. The process completely avoided undergoing the pluripotent stage. Also, unlike traditional methods, a virus wasn't used to deliver the genes into the cells. Instead, a small piece of bacterial DNA replicated the cytoplasm and delivered the gene without integrating it into the chromosome (which can lead to an unpredictable genetic makeup).

Even better, it only took about 12 days for the cells to resemble pluripotent stem cells, which is half the time required to produce iPSCs.

The neurons and astrocytes were placed into newborn rat brains, and after four weeks, the cells were acting like functional neurons with no tumors or mutations.

The cells can be taken from almost any patient's urine, as the process is a little less picky than iPSCs coming from blood. This makes this process a better option for wider availability of these cells.

Sources: The Scientist, Nature

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RE: Thinking with my...
By marvdmartian on 12/12/2012 8:02:40 AM , Rating: 3
The irony that drinking beer = more neuron production is simply mind boggling!

RE: Thinking with my...
By JonnyDough on 12/12/2012 8:48:02 AM , Rating: 3
It's no secret that drugs can stimulate parts of the mind. The problem with speeding up the central nervous system is that it works like any other electrical components. The more they run outside their given parameters the faster they degrade. Yes, pot can make you more artistic. But in the long run it's gonna fry your brain. That said, beer may stimulate parts of your brain but it is known to slow parts simultaneously as well. It's a good idea not to think you're Richard Petty (or Tom Petty if you're trying to impress women with karaoke) while you're drinking.

RE: Thinking with my...
By Skywalker123 on 12/12/12, Rating: -1
RE: Thinking with my...
By Jeffk464 on 12/12/2012 2:34:48 PM , Rating: 2
There was a recent long term study out of england that showed a drop of 10 IQ points for people who started smoking it in their teens. The study didn't show the same effect for people who started smoking it as adults.

RE: Thinking with my...
By NellyFromMA on 12/12/2012 3:00:43 PM , Rating: 1
The English start off with at least -10 IQ as compared to other countries, so study voided. Haha jk.

RE: Thinking with my...
By Jeffk464 on 12/12/2012 6:16:22 PM , Rating: 1
uh, I don't know where you got this stereotype from.

RE: Thinking with my...
By Skywalker123 on 12/12/2012 4:34:12 PM , Rating: 1
yeh, there has been all kinds of bullshit studies, alcohol definitely causes brain damage, no studies needed to see that

RE: Thinking with my...
By Skywalker123 on 12/12/2012 4:43:30 PM , Rating: 2
anyway, seems like a pissy way to get neurons

RE: Thinking with my...
By JonnyDough on 12/13/2012 12:33:26 AM , Rating: 2
Piss seems a neurotic way to get a neuron.

My father was the kind of man who said embarassing crap just to get a rise out of me sometimes.

I remember that once or twice when we stopped to use a travel center restroom along I-80/90, while he was at the urinal in the public restrooms doing his business he would look over at me and with a doofy grin on his face and say something to the effect of "P.I.S.S. spells relief."

I don't know why I shared that. I hope it made you have a doofy grin.

RE: Thinking with my...
By Schadenfroh on 12/12/2012 10:57:46 PM , Rating: 2
Drink your own urine to replenish brain cells after a bit too much booze the night before!

RE: Thinking with my...
By amagriva on 12/13/2012 2:55:03 AM , Rating: 2
If you follow these kind of advices it's just too late for your brain

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