News / Health

Stem Cells From Urine May Treat Human Diseases

Chinese scientists have grown teeth from stem cells cultured from human urine.
Chinese scientists have grown teeth from stem cells cultured from human urine.
TEXT SIZE - +
Jessica Berman
Researchers have isolated stem cells from urine as the latest potential source of treatment for human diseases. Investigators say using urine to collect and cultivate these master cells is easy and involves minimal processing.

Using proteins known as growth factors, researchers can manipulate stem cells - or master cells - to grow into any tissue in the body. Therapy using stem cells from a patient’s own body is desirable because it does not cause immune rejection, as can happen with tissues and organs from donors.  

Currently, most scientists use a complicated process to engineer regular skin and blood cells into specific cell types. That's because there are few pure sources of master cells - apart from human embryos, whose use is quite controversial.

Researchers are now finding small numbers of stem cells in urine. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said, “The advantage with urine is that you are getting approximately 2 liters of urine out every day. So you don’t have to keep going back and sticking the patient [with a needle] or doing biopsies on the patient.”

Reporting in the journal Stem Cells, a team from Wake Forest described how urine samples from 17 healthy individuals ranging in age from 5 to 75 contained stem cells that could be isolated, then coaxed to become smooth muscle-type cells like those that line the inside of the urethra and bladder.

Potential shown

Next, they placed the differentiated cells onto biologically-active support structures called scaffolds, made from pig intestine, then implanted the engineered tissue into mice.

After one month, the urine-derived stem cells developed biological markers of connective tissue and blood vessels, suggesting that they also had the potential to become bone, muscle, nerve or fat cells.

While urine may be a plentiful and less invasive way to obtain stem cells, some experts are skeptical about its value as a source of stem cells. Chris Mason, a regenerative medicine researcher at University College London, said there are very few usable stem cells in the liquid waste.

But he said in a Skype interview that the unusual research into urine-derived stem cells needs further scientific exploration.   

“It looks like it’s an area where we are looking at very, very early data from a few groups. And I think that before we can say for certain there are [usable stem cells in urine], one would have to have it reproduced by a number of different laboratories. So I think it’s more of a question mark and a maybe, rather than a certainty and a definitely not,” said Mason.

Researchers in China, meanwhile, report having grown tiny tooth buds from master cells found in urine. Researchers caution it is not yet clear, however, whether those buds can take root and grow into replacement teeth.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
August 05, 2013 1:18 AM
What kind of cells contained in urine are used to make iPs cells ?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid