Researchers from the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine has devised a way to harvest stem cells from urine. The research allows doctors to procure life–saving stem cells from a simple urine sample.
The team used stem cells from urine to make bladder–type cells such as smooth muscle and urothelial cells. The most amazing part is that the cells can be directed to form bone, cartilage, fat, skeletal muscle and nerve and endothelial cells suggesting that the cells can be used in a wide range of therapies. The cells are harvested through a non–invasive procedure which is a pre–eminent feature of this technique and manufacturing it is a low cost affair. These stem cells can virtually represent a limitless supply of autologous cells for treating kidney disease, urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. They could also be used for engineer replacement bladders, urine tubes and other urologic organs.
The research used urine samples from 17 healthy individuals aged between 5 and 75 years. For the experiment, researchers processed urine and separated the cells after which, they differentiated it into three tissue layers namely endoderm, ectoderm and mesoderm. Scientists then placed the cells into a smooth muscle and urothelial cells on scaffolds were made of pig intestine. When they were implanted in mice for one month, the cells formed multi–layered tissue–like structures. Using a patient’s own urine to create stem cells has an added advantage as it is not rejected by the immune system of the patient’s body.