Making brain cell out of pee - Need some new brain cells to replace the ones you just destroyed at your big work Christmas party? The answer may lie in your pee. Yep, scientists have been able to create the pre-cursors to neurones from the cells discarded in urine, by reprogramming them into a special type of stem cell. The induced pluripotent stem cells were programmed to produce new functioning neurons, which could then be implanted into brains - perfect for repairing brain damage. Normally this carries a risk of producing cancer, but amazingly no cancer was found in tests. Brain cells from your pee? That really is thinking with your downstairs. [Nature Methods]
Bones growing in your eyes - In a stark warning about using unproven, unapproved cosmetic therapies, a woman in Los Angeles had to have pieces of bone surgically removed from around her eye, after having experimental stem cell treatment. The woman in question had had cosmetic surgery to inject adult stem cells from her stomach fat around her eyes. It was meant to be a sort of filler, along with some calcium hydroxylapatite, but the calcium mineral caused the stem cells to make bone, not normal eye tissue, resulting in the woman growing actual bone in her eyes. Perhaps experimental stem cell treatments aren't the best way to go, apart from as a last resort, of course. [Scientific American]
Getting fat? Blame bacteria - The world's population is getting more and more obese, but maybe it's not all our fault. Researchers in China found that certain bacteria in your gut could be the cause of your weight-gain. Enterobacter was shown to significantly increase the weight of both a human volunteer, and lab mice. A simple diet change to kill off the nasty bacteria caused the 175kg volunteer to lose a massive 51kg in just 23 weeks, despite not exercising. So, maybe it's not your fault, blame the bacteria. Or, better yet, change your diet to kill it off and shed kilos without doing anything. Simple. [New Scientist]
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