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Scientists have discovered a new way to generate human motor nerve cells in a development that will help research into motor neurone disease.
A team from the Universities of Edinburgh, Cambridge and Cardiff has created a range of motor neurons – nerves cells that send messages from the brain and spine to other parts of the body – from human embryonic stem cells in the laboratory.
It is the first time that researchers have been able to generate a variety of human motor neurons, which differ in their make-up and display properties depending on where they are located
Professor Jeanne Loring
Stem cells show great potential to enable treatments for conditions such as spinal injuries or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and also as research tools. One of the greatest problems slowing such work is that researchers have found major complications in purifying cell mixtures, for instance to remove stem cells that can cause tumors from cells developed for use in medical treatments. But a group of Scripps Research scientists, working with colleagues in Japan, have developed a clever solution to this purification problem that should prove more reliable than other methods, safer, and perhaps 100 times cheaper.