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Pluripotent Stem Cells Produced from Skin of ALS Patient

Pluripotent stem cells can differentiate into motor neurons

FRIDAY, Aug. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Pluripotent stem cells, generated from the skin cells of an elderly woman with inherited amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), were induced to differentiate into motor neurons, the cell type affected by the disease, according to a report published online July 31 in Science.

John T. Dimos, Ph.D., from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., and colleagues introduced four genes into skin fibroblasts from an 82-year-old woman with a familial form of ALS, then grew them on a layer of mouse embryonic fibroblasts to generate induced pluripotent stem cells.

The researchers found that the induced pluripotent stem cells had the properties of embryonic stem cells based on gene expression and other factors, and could form embryoid bodies composed of cell types from the three embryonic germ layers. Treating embryoid bodies from induced pluripotent stem cells with molecules previously shown to induce neural differentiation in embryonic stem cells led to the growth of motor neurons, the report indicates.

"Our study demonstrates the feasibility of producing large numbers of motor neurons with a patient's exact genotype, which would be immune-matched to that individual, a long sought-after goal of regenerative medicine," Dimos and colleagues conclude.

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