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Stem cells can be isolated from urine and transformed into multiple cell types without the use of expensive and invasive surgeries

Scientists have found a way to harvest stem cells -- which are capable of becoming many types of cells for different therapies -- easily from urine

Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's Institute for Regenerative Medicine -- led by Yuanyuan Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of regenerative medicine -- have found that stem cells can be isolated from urine and transformed into multiple cell types without the use of expensive and invasive surgeries. 

Isolating stem cells from organs and tissues can be difficult because it's a very small population of cells. Also, taking the stem cells from urine means transforming into many cell types instead of just one. 

The research team originally found the cells in urine back in 2006. They discovered that these cells don't form tumors when implanted in the body like iPS cells or embryonic stem cells, making them great candidates for patient use.

Also, using stem cells from the patient's body is a good idea because there's no worry of immune rejection. 

The team took urine samples from 17 healthy individuals ranging from ages five to 75. They then processed it and looked at the cells' ability to turn into multiple types. 

From there, the cells differentiated into the three tissue layers -- endoderm, ectoderm and mesoderm -- and directed them to become bladder-type cells, such as smooth muscle and urothelial. These cells line the bladder. 
The cells were placed in scaffolds made of pig intestine, and when they were implanted in mice for one month, the cells formed tissue-like structures with multiple layers. 

The stem cells also had the ability to become other types, such as mesenchymal cells, which are adult stem cells from connective tissue like bone marrow. They also showed markers for pericytes, which are a subset of mesenchymal cells located in small blood vessels.

"These stem cells represent virtually a limitless supply of autologous cells for treating not only urology-related conditions such as kidney disease, urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, but could be used in other fields as well," said Zhang. "They could also potentially be used to engineer replacement bladders, urine tubes and other urologic organs."

Source: Science Daily

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