Mind begins as skin. Skin separates “this” from “that” and so does mind. I’ve been writing about this line of thought now for a few years but this morning I am not going to burden you with these seemingly philosophical ideas. This morning I want to tell you about something that I recently learned from a brief article in the June issue of Popular Science. Apparently, mind can also begin as… urine. Duanqing Pei, a Chinese researcher, has figured out a way to “make neurons from an unlikely source: human urine.” You see, human urine (which is by the way sterile) is full of epithelial (skin) cells and these skin cells can be directed to develop into “precursor brain cells” (neurons) with “a piece of DNA.” Pei says: “We could turn [our] own urine cells into the neural cells,” and we can use this method to fight neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s! He tried this out with lab mice: epithelial cells (harvested from urine) and tweaked with “a piece of DNA” were transplanted into mice brains where they successfully matured as neural cells.
If you had told me that we could learn to make mind out of piss, I’d say: “You are out of your mind! That’s a piss-poor idea!” Apparently not quite so. Apparently, it’s a piss-rich idea.
Reference: The Equation, Amber Williams, Popular Science, June 2013, p. 40
Related: Skinthink & the Skin of Being
Manneken Pis image available from Shutterstock.
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Last reviewed: 23 May 2013