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,
New technique removes several hurdles in generating induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, smoothing the way for disease research and drug development.
Stem cells are ideal tools to understand disease and develop new treatments; however, they can be difficult to obtain in necessary quantities. In particular, generating induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can be an arduous task because reprogramming differentiated adult skin cells into iPS cells requires many steps and the efficiency is very low – researchers might end up with only a few iPS cells even if they started with a million skin cells.
A team at Sanford-Burnham Medical
A gene called SOX2 acts as a stem cell gatekeeper – only cells expressing it have the potential to become neurons.
Early in embryonic development, the neural crest – a transient group of stem cells – gives rise to parts of the nervous system and several other tissues. But little is known about what determines which cells become neurons and which become other cell types. A team led by Dr. Alexey Terskikh at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) recently found that expression of a gene called SOX2 maintains the potential for neural crest stem cells to become neurons in the