Stem cells out of urine? I smell something fishy about it (unless I am just an unfair reviewer)
Everyone has heard about the famous “artificial teeth grown from differentiated stem cells grown from urine (!)”, making the news outlet everywhere. When I see big science make big news, I am always here like…”wait a minute” and go to the source as journalists often make so much distortion of the facts to make their article juicier.
First of all, some articles mentioned that the article was published in “Cell Stem Cells” journal that is a stellar journal with a stellar impact factor (in brief it is the “Science/Nature“, the holy Grail for any stem cell researcher). Indeed the paper was published in Cell Regeneration, an open-access journal and I found surprising that it got accepted straight forward (submitted on May 9th, accepted on June 8th that a pretty fast turnaround and no revision was mentioned).
Second thing is the choice of the stem cells and their technique. Why to choose urine cells for hiPSCs where almost everyone use either skin fibroblasts, cord blood stem cells or bone-marrow mesenchymal stem cells? They claim to use the urine of three patients volunteers but also lack to explain how they obtained the pluripotency at first place (non-integrative approach) that is a bit fishy if you want to have other researchers do the same in more common cells.
Then the tooth engineering seems very strange but here I cannot discuss much as it is out my research expertise but why would you implant your differentiated epithelial cells with the mesenchymal cells (from an embryonic tooth) into an adult kidney? The exploit here would have to have these cells calcify on a bioengineering tissue (a biomaterial scaffold as published to have stem cells differentiating into bone cells).
My conclusion is in science follow the same proverb “not everything that shines is made of gold” and usually Big Science avoid the breaking news unless it gets published in behemoths peer-reviewed journals.