Stem Cell Research & Cloning

November – January 2013: Cloning & Stem Cell Research

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NEW! Once-Paralyzed Man Given New Lease on Life Thanks to Adult Stem Cells

NEW! Adult Stem Cell Research Has Defeated Embryonic Stem Cells for Funding Priorities

Down Syndrome Reversed in Newborn Mice with Single Injection

Human Trials With Ethical Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Start Soon

What is HeLa?

Possible HIV “Cure” is a Victory for Adult Stem Cell Research — http://www.lifenews.com/2013/07/05/possible-hiv-cure-is-a-victory-for-adult-stem-cell-research/

Adult Stem Cells Could Help Amputees With Limb Regrowth

Commentary: Two-Year-Old Emerges From “Vegetative State” After Adult Stem Cell Treatment: Another Reason to End the Deliberate Inhumane Killing of the Brain Injured

Toddler Gets Windpipe Grown From Her Own Stem Cells

Scientists Clone and Kill Human Embryos for Dubious Research / Scientists Claim They Have Cloned Human Embryos for Stem Cells

New Human Cloning Research Exploits Women, Destroys Human Life

Unethical Scientists are Making Human-Animal Hybrids, Again

Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer IS Human Cloning

Not With a Bang, But a Whimper: the Quiet Demise of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Confused About Stem Cell Research? Another Pro-Life Primer

Soccer Stars Saving Ethical Umbilical Cord Stem Cells for Future Needs

Scientists Make Brain Cells From Sloughed-off Kidney Cells Found in Human Urine…

Once-Paralyzed Man Given New Lease on Life Thanks to Adult Stem Cells

Here is the latest in the many stories we’ve carried about the remarkable improvements in patients who have been treated not with embryonic stem cells (there have been no such improvements) but with ethically unobjectionable adult stem cells which are obtained from bone marrow, blood, fat tissue, umbilical cord blood, and other tissues after birth.

Under the headline “Adult Stem Cell Treatment Gives Once-Paralyzed Man New Lease on Life,” Fox 5 in Baltimore is reporting the story of Shawn, a 42-year-old Utah man who woke up 15 years ago with transverse myelitis, an autoimmune disease that causes the nerve ending to the spinal cord to deteriorate.

Within just over a year, he was paralyzed from the chest down and told by five doctors he’d never walk again. The reporter writes as if scientists had just discovered how powerfully adult stem cells can work in humans. In fact over 60,000 people are helped worldwide every year.

The good news for Shawn is six years ago stem cells were taken from his own bone marrow and placed in the diseased areas.  According to Fox 5

“Today he’s able to walk up to a half mile on the treadmill – a huge achievement considering just a few years ago the only thing he could do was wiggle his big toe a quarter of an inch. Though he still uses a wheelchair for longer distances he now works full time at Home Depot and has even started his own Lupus foundation. He’s currently working on writing a book about his journey. ‘I want to thrive,’ Shawn said. ‘I want to live, I want to experience, I want to have and enjoy my life.’”

Asked to comment, stem cell expert Dr. David Prentice told NRL News Today, “Besides treatments for spinal cord injury, cancers and anemias, adult stem cells are now showing success at treating heart damage, multiple sclerosis, juvenile diabetes, and dozens of other diseases.” Prentice added, “And by the way, adult stem cells also have the only reported case of successful treatment of a Parkinson’s patient documented in the scientific literature.”

For a complete overview of the failure of embryonic stem cells and the successes of adult stem cells, see “Not with a bang, but a whimper,” and “Adult Stem Cells truly are life savers.”
[Dave Andrusko | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 10/17/13, http://www.lifenews.com/2013/10/17/once-paralyzed-man-given-new-lease-on-life-thanks-to-adult-stem-cells/
 LifeNews.com Note: Dave Andrusko is the editor of National Right to Life News and an author and editor of several books on abortion topics. This post originally appeared in National Right to Life News Today]

 

 

 

Adult Stem Cell Research Has Defeated Embryonic Stem Cells for Funding Priorities

A new report released today by the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) analyzes funding for stem cell research in California and Maryland to conclude that funding trends reflect the scientific community’s view that the best hope for disease treatment and therapies lies with morally unproblematic, non-embryonic stem cells.
http://www.lifenews.com/2013/10/31/adult-stem-cell-research-has-defeated-embryonic-stem-cells-for-funding-priorities/

 

 

 

Down Syndrome Reversed in Newborn Mice with Single Injection

US researchers have found a way to reverse Down syndrome in newborn lab mice by injecting an experimental compound that causes the brain to grow normally.

The study, published in the Science Translational Medicine journal, offers no direct link to a treatment for humans but scientists are hopeful it may offer a path towards future breakthroughs.

There is no cure for Down syndrome, which is caused by the presence of an additional chromosome and results in intellectual disabilities, distinctive facial features and other health problems.

The team at Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, in Baltimore, used lab mice that were genetically engineered to have extra copies of about half the genes found on human chromosome 21, leading to Down syndrome-like conditions such as smaller brains and difficulty learning to navigate a maze.

On the day the mice were born, scientists injected them with a small molecule
known as a sonic hedgehog pathway agonist.
'Unexpected benefits' in learning and memory

The compound, which has not been proven safe for use in humans, is designed to boost normal growth of the brain and body via a gene known as SHH.

The gene provides instructions for making a protein called sonic hedgehog, which is essential for development.

"It worked beautifully," said Roger Reeves of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

"Most people with Down syndrome have a cerebellum that's about 60 per cent of the normal size," he said.

"We were able to completely normalise growth of the cerebellum through adulthood with that single injection."

The injection also led to unexpected benefits in learning and memory, normally handled by a different part of the brain known as the hippocampus.

Researchers found that the treated mice did as well as normal mice on a test of locating a water platform while in a swimming maze.

    We were able to completely normalize growth of the cerebellum through adulthood with that single injection
    Roger Reeves, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

However, adjusting the treatment for human use would be complicated, since altering the growth of the brain could lead to unintended consequences, such as triggering cancer.

"Down syndrome is very complex and nobody thinks there's going to be a silver bullet that normalises cognition," Dr Reeves said.

"Multiple approaches will be needed."

What is Down syndrome?
    A common genetic condition caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21
    Developmental milestones are delayed in children with the syndrome
    Speech and language is often the greatest area of delay
    Physical characteristics – including a slight upward slant of the eyes, round face and small stature – are associated with the syndrome
    People with the syndrome experience some level of learning disability
    With support many adults live independently, participate in the workforce and lead full lives
    Down syndrome is usually recognisable at birth and confirmed by a blood test
Source: Victoria Government's Better Health Channel

Scientists produce mice that do not get fat —  Photo: Scientists injected mice with a molecule designed to boost normal growth of the brain and body. (ABC TV)
[5 Sept 2013, Updated Fri 6 Sep 2013, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-05/downs-syndrome-reversed-in-newborn-mice/4936412 ; Richard Watson, MD, 5 Sept 13]

Human Trials With Ethical Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Start Soon

The first induced pluripotent stem cell human trial–that is, ethical stem cells made from skin or other tissues–is about to begin. Like the two (or is it three?) existing embryonic stem cell trials, it has to do with eye disease.
http://www.lifenews.com/2013/08/11/human-trials-with-ethical-induced-pluripotent-stem-cells-start-soon/

What is HeLa?

Earlier this month, the NIH (National Institute of Health) revealed an agreement -between scientists and family members – in a very interesting case regarding the cell line of a deceased woman named Henrietta Lacks. Ms. Lacks died of cervical cancer in 1951 at age of 31, but before her death some of the cells from her tumor were removed and stored in a lab where they unprecedentedly thrived

(NYT).  Her cells were deemed 'immortal' for their ability to propagate unlike any others before that time (virology blog).  And propagate they did.  HeLa (for Henrietta Lacks) cells have been used in laboratories around the world to develop or improve the polio vaccine, chemotherapy, and gene mapping, among many other applications (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, p.2).  HeLa cells have been known and used for years by scientists, but these cellular adventures were mostly unknown to the Lacks family.

On August 7th, the agreement was announced, and "…spells out terms that make two sequenced genomes of HeLa cells available only to scientists who apply for access and promise to use the genome data solely for biomedical research purposes" (The Scientist).  The agreement also incorporates the Lacks family into the decision-making of what should be done with the genome data from the cell line.

Initially, I was unaware of how often cells are used for biomedical research without consent; it seemed only logical and just for the descendents of Ms. Lacks to have a say so in how her tumor cells were used. It seems that should be the case for any individual whose body (even at the most micro-level) has been used for potential medical research. However, according to journalist and author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot, doctors do not have to tell you when your cells are being used for research. In the afterward of her book, Skloot notes, "Today most Americans have their tissue on file somewhere…the stuff you leave behind doesn't always get thrown out. Doctors, hospitals, and laboratories keep it. Often indefinitely" (p. 315).

This issue of commercializing individual's cell lines raises an important question in biomedical research of "Who owns the body before and/or after death?"  According to John Locke, one of the most influential philosophers of modern times, no one has a right to your own body but YOU.  Much of Locke's philosophy and ideas of natural rights and property are ingrained in modern western society; however, biomedical research seems to question this thinking (as seen clearly in the case of Henrietta Lacks). One could conclude that if Locke were around today, he would believe the Lacks family should have had say regarding their relative's HeLa cells. Locke would have lauded author Rebecca Skloot for finally bringing recognition to the Lacks family. As stated in Locke's famous work, The Two Treaties of Government, "…every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself" (Chp V, Second Treatise of Gov.).

Such a Lockean approach for biomedical research — where mere embodiment entitles individuals to sole rights — can cultivate a market for commodifying the human and his/her parts, losing sight of human dignity.  Proper informed consent, on the other hand, allows a patient or patient's family to gift an organ for transplant or a body for research.  Blood, cells, and tissue (for instance, a biopsy), however, are not usually a part of this rubric.  Prior to the agreement recently reached, Henrietta Lacks and her surviving family members enjoyed neither Lockean ownership nor informed consent regarding the HeLa cells.  Although  the agreement reached applies only to the Lacks family and the HeLa cells, it is hopefully the beginning of a wider conversation about this important matter of "Who owns the body?"

The Lacks family has not capitalized on the famous HeLa cells.  Rather, they have simply requested recognition for the great medical discoveries that have come from their loved one's tumor cells with the help of Skloot. In a free market society where money is power, this is very generous of the Lacks family.   HeLa cells have taught us much about medicine and science; the Lacks family, by their example, is teaching us about what it means to be human.
 For a human future,
[31 Aug 13, Kate Farrar, 2013 TN-CBC Intern, D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A., Executive Director, The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture ]

Possible HIV
“Cure” is a Victory for Adult Stem Cell Research

The news of two men supposedly being cured from HIV (only the 3rd and 4th people ever to be cured) is cause for celebration for those promoting ethical adult stem cells, and provides motivation to increase adult stem cell research. Yet, Senate Bill 959 is the most anti-life bill headed for passage since 2010.  Sponsored by Sen. Harkin, it has passed out of the Senate HELP Committee and is headed for a vote on the Senate floor.

http://www.lifenews.com/2013/07/05/possible-hiv-cure-is-a-victory-for-adult-stem-cell-research/

 

 

 

 

Adult Stem Cells Could Help Amputees With Limb Regrowth

The ability for some species to regenerate limbs and other body parts is a fascinating part of nature.

http://www.lifenews.com/2013/06/14/adult-stem-cells-could-help-amputees-with-limb-regrowth/

 

 

 

Commentary: Two-Year-Old Emerges From “Vegetative State” After Adult Stem Cell Treatment: Another Reason to End the Deliberate Inhumane Killing of the Brain Injured

The death crowd is certainly not going to like this story. It is being reported that a two-year old boy emerged from a persistent vegetative state (PVS) by treating him with umbilical cord stem cells. From the story:

Doctors claim to have successfully treated a child suffering with cerebral palsy with stem cells for the first time. Just weeks after being given an intravenous stem cell treatment from umbilical cord blood, the symptoms of a boy who had been left in a vegetative state after a heart attack improved considerably. Within months he could talk and move.

When a person is diagnosed to be in a PVS, they are essentially said to be unresponsive and written off from the possibility of making any type of meaningful recovery. In this particular situation, physicians believed this boy, known only as LB, would never improve from his PVS condition.

Why is this news so significant? For me and my family, this news is very significant because it validates that stem cell treatment, other than the much ballyhooed embryonic stem cell treatment, continues to make huge advances helping people. In the case of my sister Terri Schiavo, it supports my family’s contention by asking the question: why are we deliberately killing people with these types of brain injuries when no one can anticipate the medical research that can eventually become available to aid these individuals?

Perhaps more importantly is that it highlights the potential dangers of the lethal PVS diagnosis and the need to for it to be abolished. Besides the manner in which the word itself “vegetative” dehumanizes a person, we should stop using the PVS diagnosis as a motive to kill our brain injured brothers and sisters.

Some background on the PVS diagnosis – it is completely subjective, left up to the discretion of the physician(s) examining the patient. It should come as no surprise that in recent years, several studies have found that over 40% of those diagnosed to be in a PVS are, in fact, not. We can then understand why you hardly, if ever, read from our mainstream media that the PVS diagnosis is used as a criterion – every day – to justify killing patients, as it was in my sister’s situation. Imagine that, a diagnosis that is being used as criteria to kill our most vulnerable is close to having a 50% error rate.

Indeed, how many of us realize that it was this unscientific PVS diagnosis, which was used by the judge in Terri’s case, Judge George Greer, to rule it was “okay” to kill Terri?

In fact, to this day, the media relies heavily on this PVS diagnosis to rationalize Terri’s barbaric dehydration and starvation death and others killed for the same reason.

We loved Terri regardless if she ever improved from her brain injury, but my family contended Terri was not in a PVS. Particularly after she began forming words from the rehabilitation and therapy she was receiving just subsequent to her unexplained collapse in 1990. Not to mention that there were several neurologists and health care professionals that believed Terri was not in a PVS and could have improved with proper therapy and the medical technology that was available when she was alive.

Now, with his new development, those like Terri, with these types of profound brain injuries, and there are estimates that in the US alone upwards of 200,000 individual are in a similar condition, could possibly be aided in their recovery. And one can only imagine where Terri might be today with the help of modern medicine.

In the case of this L.B., doctors initially didn’t think the stem cells treatment would help… For entire article, click —
[5 June 13, Bobby Schindler, London, England,  http://www.lifenews.com/2013/06/05/two-year-old-emerges-from-vegetative-state-after-adult-stem-cell-treatment/]

Toddler Gets Windpipe Grown From Her Own Stem Cells

An adorable two year-old has a new lease on life thanks to pioneering doctors, a charitable Catholic hospital and her own stem cells. Little Hannah Warren was born without a trachea, the passageway that leads to the lungs.
Medical first as toddler receives lifesaving windpipe transplant made from stem cells from her own bone marrow
2-year-old daughter, Hannah Warren, in a post-op room at the Children'sHospital of Illinois in Peoria after having received a new windpipe in alandmark transplant operation on…

By Dave Andrusko “Groundbreaking” is often overused in describing advances in medical treatments, but the surgical creation of a windpipe for a little girl born without one certain merits the superlative…
[April 9, 2013.JIM CARLSON / OSF SAINT FRANCISMEDICAL CENTER  http://www.lifenews.com/2013/05/01/toddler-gets-windpipe-grown-from-her-own-stem-cells/]

 

Scientists Clone and Kill Human Embryos for Dubious Research

Scientists in Oregon announced today that they had created cloned human embryos, and then destroyed the embryos to extract embryonic stem cells.
http://www.lifenews.com/2013/05/15/scientists-clone-and-kill-human-embryos-for-dubious-research/

Scientists Claim They Have Cloned Human Embryos for Stem Cells

Researchers in Oregon claimed they have succeeded in producing cloned human embryos and obtained their embryonic stem cells.
http://www.lifenews.com/2013/05/15/scientists-claim-they-have-cloned-human-embryos-for-stem-cells/

Unethical Scientists are Making Human-Animal Hybrids, Again

How often we are told by “the scientists” that those outside the field have no business telling them what to–and more particularly, what not–to do. And yet, again and again and again, we learn that some scientists refuse to restrain themselves.
http://www.lifenews.com/2013/05/15/unethical-scientists-are-making-human-animal-hybrids-again/


Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer IS Human Cloning

The following is a collection of brief write-ups from Wesley J. Smith on how media and scientists are obfuscating the cloning issue by claiming somatic cell nuclear transfer is not human cloning.
http://www.lifenews.com/2013/05/19/somatic-cell-nuclear-transfer-is-human-cloning/

 

New Human Cloning Research Exploits Women, Destroys Human Life

The Center for Bioethics and Culture (CBC) strongly decries the practice of deriving human embryonic stem cells through cloning because it exploits women for their eggs, it commodifies human life, and it is unnecessary.

http://www.lifenews.com/2013/05/17/new-human-cloning-research-exploits-women-destroys-human-life/

Not With a Bang, But a Whimper: the Quiet Demise of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Let’s wind the clock back to 2003. In January wheelchair-bound quadriplegic actor Christopher Reeve visited Australia to promote the legalisation of “therapeutic cloning”. This was absolutely necessary, he said, or patients would die needlessly. Scepticism about the potential of embryonic stem cells was utterly unwarranted. "That's a myth,” he told his Australian audience. “That's not true. Don't let anyone tell you it is a pipedream."

In July that year the New England Journal of Medicine, the world’s leading medical journal, published a review article about the “promise of universal healing” in embryonic stem cells. “The Promethean prospect of eternal regeneration awaits us, while time's vulture looks on,” the hyperventilating author wrote.

In short, people were excited. So excited, in fact, that in 2005 Australia passed legislation enabling “therapeutic cloning” for research purposes.

It’s hard to recapture the intensity of that debate, in Australia and elsewhere. The cause was urgent. “We have lost so much time already, and I just really can't bear to lose any more,” said former First Lady Nancy Reagan. Scientists became political activists.  They lobbied politicians and insisted that therapeutic cloning would lead to cures for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. "I have never seen in my career a biological tool as powerful as the stem cells. It addresses every single human disease," said Hans Keirstead, of the University of California, Irvine.

Dissenters contended that adult stem cells already offered ethical avenues to cures and that embryonic stem cells would never work. Embryos were human beings and that it was moral madness to treat human life as a research tool. Women would be victims, too, as therapeutic cloning would require huge stocks of eggs. And besides, for a number of reasons, it just would not work.

The stakes were immense and the dissenters lost. Ethics had to take a back seat to science. Bioethicist Ruth Faden and stem cell scientist John Gearhart, both leaders in their field, spoke for many: “We believe that the obligation to relieve human suffering binds us all and justifies the instrumental use of early embryonic life.”

But the cures never came.

In the past ten years the single most memorable event in embryonic stem cell research has been setting a world record for scientific fraud. In 2004 and 2005 Science published two papers by Hwang Woo-suk, a South Korean scientist. He claimed that he had successfully isolated human embryonic stem cells. Korea printed stamps in his honour and he was feted as an international celebrity. But he was a charlatan, his results were bogus and he had obtained human eggs unethically.

Press releases continued to gush from stem cell institutes, but they were always about promising developments rather than proven cures. In 2011, after many false starts and a year after launching a human trial for spinal cord injuries to cure people like Christopher Reeve, the California-based biotechnology firm Geron pulled the plug on all of its embryonic stem cell research to focus on cancer drugs. It had to: it was going broke.

The reason why stem cell research with embryos has faded from the headlines is that it has been superseded by “induced pluripotent stem cells”. In 2007 Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka showed that it was possible to create stem cell lines from skin cells without destroying embryos. Almost immediately leading stem cell scientists abandoned embryonic stem cell research. Yamanaka – a man who had spurned embryonic stem cell research as unethical — won the Nobel Prize in Medicine last year.

For various reasons some scientists continue to champion the cause of hESCs. Earlier this month researchers at Oregon Health and Science University announced that they had cloned human embryos and successfully extracted embryonic stem cells. The study was published in the journal Cell after a lightning peer review. It was a “tour de force” and “an unparalleled achievement”, said George Daly of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

His jubilation was short-lived.

The main effect of this paper was to evoke the nightmare of the Hwang scandal. Sharp-eyed readers noticed that some images had been duplicated.  Clouds began to gather over the results. “It's a degree of sloppiness that you wouldn't expect in a paper that was going to have this high profile,” an expert told Nature. “One worries if there is more than meets the eye and whether there are other issues with the work that are not as apparent.”

So this is the sputtering end of the greatest bioethical battle of the 21st century: just another a blip of embarrassment in the 24/7 news cycle. As the Boston Globe has pointed out, “The emergence of reprogrammed stem cells, the difficulty of the involved method, and the obstacles to obtaining donor eggs for the procedure all make the advance more an important technical feat than a game-changer for stem cell scientists or a platform for new therapies.”

Isn’t it about time to establish a Stem Cell Truth and Reconciliation Commission? To get government funding so that they could play God with human embryos, scientists and bioethicists barnstormed, fibbed, exaggerated, hyped, and caricatured. It was a brutal battle in which truth came second. "People need a fairy tale," said Ronald D.G. McKay, another leading stem cell scientist.

Foes of embryo research were called troglodytes and religious fundamentalists. Their scientific credentials were questioned. They were accused of being callous and indifferent to the suffering of patients with chronic illness.

And yet they were right.

Not one person has been cured with embryonic stem cells. Not one.

There is still a long way to go before Yamanaka’s cells can be used to treat patients. But the solution, when comes, will not require the destruction of embryos.

Isn’t anyone prepared to say, “Sorry”?
[Michael Cook   4 Jun 13, Mercatornet.com,  http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/not-with-a-bang-but-a-whimper-the-quiet-demise-of-embryonic-stem-cell-resea?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=061e3ece55-LifeSiteNews_com_US_Full_Text_06_04_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0caba610ac-061e3ece55-326224910]

 

 

Confused About Stem Cell Research? Another Pro-Life Primer

Much of the confusion over stem cell research involves misunderstanding of terms, so let’s begin with some definitions.
http://www.lifenews.com/2013/05/20/confused-about-stem-cell-research-a-pro-life-primer/

 

 

 

Soccer Stars Saving Ethical Umbilical Cord Stem Cells for the Future

British soccer players are following a new celebrity trend—freezing their children’s umbilical cord cells to trea

t future sports injuries and medical conditions, the London Sunday Times reported.

“We decided to store our new baby’s stem cells for possible future therapeutic reasons, both for our children and possibly for myself,” one Premier League “footballer” told the Times. “As a footballer, if you’re prone to injury it can mean the end of your career, so having your stem cells—a repair kit if you like—on hand makes sense.”

More than 11,000 parents in Britain have paid up to 1,500 pounds ($2,837) for the cells to be stored at seven commercial stem cell banks in the country, the Times reported.

One of the banks, CryoGenesis International (CGI), has stored umbilical cord cells from the children of five footballers. The technology is currently being developed for the cells to treat damaged cartilage and ligaments. “This has been carried out experimentally,” Paul Griffiths, managing director of CGI, told the Times.

“The stem cells are injected directly into the knee and because they have the same genetic code they start rebuilding.”
Griffiths told the Daily Post that other athletes and celebrities have stored cells at CGI. “Eighty diseases can now be treated by stem cells,” he said.

“There is absolutely no controversy. We don’t take embryonic stem cells, we use umbilical cord stem cells—those samples can change children’s lives, yet they are thrown away. The company was set up to save as many children as we can.”
http://www.nrlc.org/news/2006/NRL09/PDF/BriefNewsPage5.pdf

 

 

 

SCIENTISTS MAKE BRAIN CELLS FROM SLOUGHED-OFF KIDNEY CELLS IN HUMAN URINE

This is possibly a breakthrough in research (Agence France-Presse).

Because it is so easy to get human urine samples from almost anyone, the new technique could have advantages over other techniques [Nature News].  

The study, published online in Nature Methods and conducted by a team led by Chinese stem-cell biologist Duanqing Pei, found that kidney epithelial cells in urine might someday be used to study disease and even in therapeutic treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's & Parkinson's.
   
The process works by transforming cells present in the urine into precursors of brain cells, known as neural progenitor cells, & takes just 12 days; within a month, the cells morph into full-fledged brain cells.

In the current study, a Chinese research team used a newer, safer approach.

The team harvested skin cells that line the kidneys and are routinely shed in human urine.

Next, the scientists injected new genetic instructions to reprogram cells to become brain cells. But unlike the viral method, those instructions only stick around temporarily, Brennand told LiveScience.

"Holes are made in the cell membrane so DNA can enter, but because the DNA doesn't integrate into the genome, but just sits in the cytoplasm, it exists transiently," Brennand wrote.

The reprogramming instructions are therefore eventually lost as the cells divide, Brennand wrote.

With these new genetic instructions, the cells transformed into brain stem cells, which can turn into different types of brain cells. The transformation from kidney cell to brain stem cell took just 12 days, and within a month, the cells had morphed into full-fledged brain cells.
  
Because it is so easy to get human pee samples from almost anyone, the new technique could have advantages over other techniques. 
[Eric Pfeiffer, Dec 10, 2012,
http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/brain-cells-made-human-urine-201443181.html ; [11 Dec 12, CNN, http://www.wivb.com/dpps/news/offbeat ab-transforms-urine-into-brain-cells-nd12_5087127 ; http://news.yahoo.com/brain-cells-made-pee173207695.html]
[Of course, this is ethical, Adult Stem Cell Research, again, showing safety & versatility, as opposed to Embryonic stem cells that possess a high risk of developing tumors, and are often rejected by the patient’s body; besides being unethical, they are dangerous and have met only with failure.]