WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. July 31, 2013 Could harvesting stem cells for therapy one day be as simple as asking patients for a urine sample? Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's Institute for Regenerative Medicine and colleagues have identified stem cells in urine that can be directed to become multiple cell types.
"These cells can be obtained through a simple, non-invasive low-cost approach that avoids surgical procedures," said Yuanyuan Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of regenerative medicine and senior researcher on the project.
Reporting online in the journal Stem Cells, the team successfully directed stem cells from urine to become bladder-type cells, such as smooth muscle and urothelial, the cells that line the bladder. But the urine-derived cells could also form bone, cartilage, fat, skeletal muscle, nerve, and endothelial cells, which line blood vessels. The multipotency of the cells suggests their use in a variety of therapies.
"These stem cells represent virtually a limitless supply of autologous cells for treating not only urology-related conditions such as kidney disease, urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, but could be used in other fields as well," said Zhang. "They could also potentially be used to engineer replacement bladders, urine tubes and other urologic organs."
Being able to use a patient's own stem cells for therapy is considered advantageous because they do not induce immune responses or rejection. However, because tissue-specific cells are a very small subpopulation of cells, they can be difficult to isolate from organs and tissues.
Zhang's team first identified the cells, which are a small subset of the many cells found in urine, in 2006. The current research builds on earlier studies by confirming the multipotency of the cells. In addition, the research found that unlike iPS cells or embryonic stem cells, the urine derived-stem cells do not form tumor
|Contact: Karen Richardson|
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center