Biologists at China's Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health have discovered a method of successfully reprogramming cells found in urine into stem cells. This is a huge scientific breakthrough that will help to qualm ethical fears over using embryonic stem cells, with a laundry list of other added benefits. In a published study the team outlined how they transformed common cells found in urine into stem cells. As well as the breakthrough using such cells, the team also outlined their revolutionary procedure which reduces the risks of mutation commonly found in other stem cell procedures and speeds up the process of growing those cells.
The team had originally reported its findings in 2011 with reprogramming cells found in urine. However, the traditional technique entailed the use of a retrovirus, however, the presence of such a virus led to the destabilization of genes and left the cells susceptible to mutations, tumors and genetic defects. So the team sought out for a safer technique. Their new procedure would prove to not only be safer but faster. The used vector cells, cells already present in the body that are used to transport information from one cell to another, to grow these new cells. The cells took a mere 12 days to grow in a petri dish, a rate twice as fast as traditional methods. The team has not definitively proven these cells would have less mutations in the long run but their work does look promising. In a 2007 study, when embryonic cells were used to treat Parkinson's in rats the cells divided too quickly and the result led to the development of tumors in those rats. When the new procedure was used the cells showed no sign of abnormal cell division.
The new procedure makes use of ones own cells found within the body both vector and cells found in urine which eliminates the risk of the body viewing the new cells as intruders and thus trying to fight them off. The findings will also help to fight the stigma associated with using embryonic cells. Not only does it address ethical questions regarding embryonic stem cells, it addresses safety and health concerns associated with embryonic cells. An additional benefit is the ease at which one could obtain the cells, it would be far easier to obtain a urine sample from someone as opposed to blood or bone marrow especially children.
All and all we here at Geeked Out Electronics think this sounds like a promising advance in Biomedicine and applaud the researchers at Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health. We will keep you updated with any further developments by the team or any other exciting developments in Biomedical technology.