Chinese researchers have developed a new technique for isolating kidney cells from urine and turning them into neural progenitors — –immature brain cells that can develop into various types of glial cells and neurons. Reprogramming cells has been done before, of course, but not with cells gleaned from urine and not via a method this direct. The technique could prove extremely helpful to those pursuing treatments for neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
The innovation here is in the source and the method. We know that embryonic stem cells offer potential treatments for neurodegenerative disorders. And we know that we can turn adult human cells–that is, non-embryonic cells gathered from adult humans–into pluripotent cells (those that can become a different type of cell) by reprogramming them, usually with genetically engineered viruses that tamper with the cells’ genetic codes.
But embryonic stem cell treatments are fraught with ethical issues and…
View original post 249 more words