In an effort to identify the underlying causes of neurological disorders that impair motor functions such as walking and breathing, UCLA researchers have developed a novel system to measure communication between stem cell–derived motor neurons and muscle cells in a Petri dish.
The study provides an important proof of principle that functional motor circuits can be created outside the body using these neurons and cells and that the level of communication, or synaptic activity, between them can be accurately measured by stimulating the motor neurons with an electrode and then tracking the transfer of electrical activity into the muscle cells
USC Stem Cell researcher Justin Ichida has marshaled the expertise of pharmaceutical company Sanofi and startup DRVision Technologies, along with $1.5 million in federal funding, to find new drugs in the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
ALS patients suffer from the death of the cells that transmit signals from the brain to the muscles, called motor neurons, leading to progressive paralysis and usually resulting in fatal respiratory failure within three to five years of diagnosis.
The three-year grant comes from the Department of Defense. Each year, the DoD funds two ALS Therapeutic Development Awards because military veterans
Japanese stem cell scientists have succeeded in slowing the deterioration of mice with motor neuron disease, possibly paving the way for human treatment, according to a new paper.
A team of researchers from the Kyoto University and Keio University transplanted specially created cells into mice with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig’s, or motor neuron disease.
The progress of the creatures’ neurological degeneration was slowed by almost 8%, according to the paper, which was published on Friday in the journal Stem Cell Reports.
Researchers looking for ways to regenerate nerves can have a hard time obtaining key tools of their trade.
Schwann cells are an example. They form sheaths around axons, the tail-like parts of nerve cells that carry electrical impulses. They promote regeneration of those axons. And they secrete substances that promote the health of nerve cells.
In other words, they’re very useful to researchers hoping to regenerate nerve cells, specifically peripheral nerve cells, those cells outside the brain and spinal cord.
But Schwann cells are hard to come by in useful numbers.
So researchers have been taking readily available and noncontroversial mesenchymal stem cells
Abundant precursor cells can become many types of neurons without introducing tumor risk
In a paper published in the April 25 early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco and colleagues report a game-changing advance in stem cell science: the creation of long-term, self-renewing, primitive neural precursor cells from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) that can be directed to become many types of neuron without increased risk of tumor formation.
“It’s a big step forward,” said Kang Zhang, MD, PhD,