Self-Renewing Neural Stem Cells To Treat Neurological Conditions!
A collaborative research conducted by researchers from the Gladstone Institute, San Francisco and San Diego School of Medicine, University of California has resulted in the creation of self-renewing, primitive neural precursor cells from human embryonic stem cells that can be programmed to become different types of neurons without any risk of formation of tumors.
This is the first time scientists have succeeded in generating renewable neural stem cells.
According to Kang Zhang, director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine, the results mean that these neural stem cells can be produced in millions in a week’s time, which can further be used for clinical trials of several nervous system disorders.
The team generated these precursor neural stem cells from human embryonic stem cells which were placed in modified culture conditions by adding some molecules which in turn stop the newly formed precursor neural stem cells from differentiating into specific nerve cells.
Moreover, risk of outside contamination or mutations is totally reduced as this process doe not involve exogenous cell products or gene transfer technologies. In addition, assays conducted on these cells did not show any evidence of tumor formation after they were injected into mice models.
The significance of these precursor cells lies in the fact that they can be transformed to specific type of neurons by further adding some more chemicals to them.
This aspect is very useful to generate neurons for several neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Neurons specific to eye lost during conditions such as Retinitis Pigmentosa or Macular Degeneration or Glaucoma can also be created.
The researchers’ next aim is to check the efficiency of these cells in treating neurodegenerative conditions in animal models before they can be tested on humans through different phases of clinical trials.