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New stem cell method produces millions of human brain and muscle cells in days

last modified Mar 27, 2017 01:29 PM

 

 

CSCI (Vallier lab) and Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute  scientists along with their collaborators at the University of Cambridge have created a new technique that simplifies the production of human brain and muscle cells - allowing millions of functional cells to be generated in just a few days. The results published in Stem Cell Reports open the door to producing a diversity of new cell types that could not be made before in order to study disease.

Human pluripotent stem cells offer the ability to create any tissue, including those which are typically hard to access, such as brain cells. They hold huge potential for studying human development and the impact of diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and heart disease.

In a human, it takes 9-12 months for a single brain cell to develop fully. To create human brain cells, including grey matter (neurons) and white matter (oligodendrocytes) from an induced pluripotent stem cell, it can take between three and twenty weeks using current methods. However, these methods are complex and time-consuming, often producing a mixed population of cells.

The new platform technology, OPTi-OX, optimises the way of switching on genes in human stem cells. Scientists applied OPTi-OX to the production of millions of nearly identical cells in a matter of days. In addition to the neurons, oligodendrocytes, and muscle cells the scientists created in the study, OPTi-OX holds the possibility of generating any cell type at unprecedented purities, in this short timeframe.

Read more: Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, University of Cambridge, IFL Science, Technology Network

Publication details:

Pawlowski M, Ortmann D, Bertero A, Tavares JM, Pedersen RA, Vallier L, Kotter MRN. Inducible and Deterministic Forward Programming of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells into Neurons, Skeletal Myocytes, and Oligodendrocytes. Stem Cell Reports http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.stemcr.2017.02.016