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article imageCan urine be turned into brain cells?

By Tim Sandle     Dec 17, 2012 in Science
Scientists have carried out a study whereby cells from human urine have been manipulated into cells that resemble the types of neurons found in the brain.
The research, carried out in China (Academy of Sciences), has been published in Nature. For the research the scientists took human urine can transformed the cells into neural progenitor cells that can become several different types of functioning brain cell. The technique involved reprogramming genes to epithelial-like cells taken from urine with a small piece of bacterial DNA.
The newly manufactured cells, according to the Guardian, were then transplanted into the brains of adult rats. The cells continued to function for around a month. It is not known, however, if the cells became integrated with the brains of the rats.
The research offers a relatively easy way to generate neurons that will be useful for studying neurodegenerative conditions, like Alzheimer’s. At present scientists can transform skin and blood cells to become stem cells which can then be manipulated to form other cells. This is, however, a lengthy process using engineered viruses.
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