Chinese scientists have unveiled a new technique that can be used to take cells from a patient’s urine and develop them into brain cells, which could be used to treat patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
A study published in science journal Nature Methods details how scientists took cells from urine samples of patients aged ten, 25 and 37 and successfully altered them into neurons and glial cells that are found in the brain. The cells were then transplanted into the brains of rats and were still alive a month later.
Scientist Mo Costandi, writing in the Guardian, speculated that the breakthrough could now lead to improved treatment of patients diagnosed with cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
He said: “The next logical step will be to generate neurons from urine samples obtained from patients with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other neurodegenerative diseases.”
However, Mr Costandi did warn that it was unclear as to how the newly altered cells would behave when transplanted back into the host, as the research at the current stage has not determined if the altered cells “integrate into the existing circuits” and become functional in the brain.
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