Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:48 PM
Playinghardball (10,650 posts)
Turning urine into brain cells could help fight Alzheimerís, Parkinsonís
Chinese researchers have devised a new technique for reprogramming cells from human urine into immature brain cells that can form multiple types of functioning neurons and glial cells. The technique, published today in the journal Nature Methods, could prove useful for studying the cellular mechanisms of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimerís and Parkinsonís and for testing the effects of new drugs that are being developed to treat them.
Stem cells offer the hope of treating these debilitating diseases, but obtaining them from human embryos poses an ethical dilemma. We now know that cells taken from the adult human body can be made to revert to a stem cell-like state and then transformed into virtually any other type of cell. This typically involves using genetically engineered viruses that shuttle control genes into the nucleus and inserts them into the chromosomes, whereupon they activate genes that make them pluripotent, or able to re-differentiate into another type of cell.
In 2008, for example, American researchers took skin cells from an 82-year-old patient with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and reprogrammed them into motor neurons. Cells obtained in this way could help us gain a better understanding of such diseases. Grafts of patientsí own cells do not elicit an immune response, so this approach may eventually lead to effective cell transplantation therapies. But it also has its problems Ė it appears that the reprogramming process destabilizes the genome and causes mutations, and that iPSCs may therefore harbour genetic defects that render them useless.
Last year, Duanqing Pei of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and his colleagues reported that human urine contains skin-like cells from the lining of the kidney tubules which can be efficiently reprogrammed, via the pluripotent state, into neurons, glia, liver cells and heart muscle cells. Now they have improved on the approach, making it quicker, more efficient and possibly less prone to errors.
I say piss on it...
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Turning urine into brain cells could help fight Alzheimerís, Parkinsonís (Original post)
|PD Turk||Dec 2012||#1|