Stop flushing those brain cells!

Stem cells are so five years ago.  Now scientists have developed a way to turn the cells in urine into neural progenitor cells!

Some of the waste that humans flush away every day could become a powerful source of brain cells to study disease, and may even one day be used in therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. Scientists have found a relatively straightforward way to persuade the cells discarded in human urine to turn into valuable neurons.

The technique, described online in a study in Nature Methods this week1, does not involve embryonic stem cells. These come with serious drawbacks when transplanted, such as the risk of developing tumours. Instead, the method uses ordinary cells present in urine, and transforms them into neural progenitor cells — the precursors of brain cells. These precursor cells could help researchers to produce cells tailored to individuals more quickly and from more patients than current methods.

This way, when the police arrest me for peeing on Bill O’Reilly and Bill Donahue, I can say that I was only trying to help them.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Emily Dietle

    The old adage “piss for brains” will finally ring true!

  • Loqi

    You’re going to need to drink a lot more water to help those two.

  • Bill Krueger

    I can see a conversation changing from “Say NO to Stem Cell research” to “You’re going to use WHAT? Maybe stem cells aren’t such a bad thing after all”.

    • baal

      /looks skeptically at the guy named ‘Bill’

      Wait – if there are cells in our urine (presumably from sloughing from the bladder lining cells and similar) aren’t each of those cells human cells? Aren’t human cells human life? Aren’t we peeing human life away? Quick, someone call the NOM and AFA!

  • Azkyroth

    Does this mean there’s hope for those who’ve flushed their whole brain down the toilet?