Technique mass produces neural stem cells
Stem cells hold the promise of cures for injuries such as spinal cord damage and diseases such as Parkinson's but producing large quantities of cells for experiments and clinical trials is proving very difficult.
In newly described work, researchers have found a way of changing human embryonic stem cells into neural stem cells. They then treated those stem cells with growth factors to produce rapidly expanding colonies of neural stem cells.
These large colonies of cells were stable and so ideal for use in screening for new medicines and in clinical trials. The cells were also implanted into mice to see if they remained stable within a whole-body environment.
While some stem cells, including the cell types used to originate these neural stem cells, are unstable and cause cancers when implanted into an animal, the mice given these neural stem cells remained cancer free for 6 months.
This new experimental technique will now be applied to produce heart muscle and pancreatic stem cells.