iPS Cells Mature into Functional Motor Neurons

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles have matured induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into what appear to be normal motor neurons. This work shows that iPS cells can mature into cells that appear similar to those derived from human embryonic stem cells — a finding that has important implications for people hoping to create new therapies based on iPS cells. These cells are created by reprogramming adult cells back into a pluripotent state that resembles embryonic stem cells. One question has been whether these reprogrammed cells have the same capacity as embryonic stem cells to turn into mature, functioning cell types. This work shows that, at least for motor neurons, iPS and embryonic stem cells have the same capacity to form mature cells. Scientists can study these motor neurons in the lab to learn about — and find cures for — diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), spinal muscle atrophy or spinal cord injury.

Stem Cells:February 23, 2009 (online publication)
CIRM funding: William Lowry (RS1-00259)

Related Information: Broad Stem Cell Research Center, Lowry lab page