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Regen Med. 2011 Nov;6(6 Suppl):25-30. doi: 10.2217/rme.11.85.

Novel paths towards neural cellular products for neurological disorders.

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Program in Stem Cell & Regenerative Biology, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


The prospect of using neural cells derived from stem cells or from reprogrammed adult somatic cells provides a unique opportunity in cell therapy and drug discovery for developing novel strategies for brain repair. Cell-based therapeutic approaches for treating CNS afflictions caused by disease or injury aim to promote structural repair of the injured or diseased neural tissue, an outcome currently not achieved by drug therapy. Preclinical research in animal models of various diseases or injuries report that grafts of neural cells enhance endogenous repair, provide neurotrophic support to neurons undergoing degeneration and replace lost neural cells. In recent years, the sources of neural cells for treating neurological disorders have been rapidly expanding and in addition to offering therapeutic potential, neural cell products hold promise for disease modeling and drug discovery use. Specific neural cell types have been derived from adult or fetal brain, from human embryonic stem cells, from induced pluripotent stem cells and directly transdifferentiated from adult somatic cells, such as skin cells. It is yet to be determined if the latter approach will evolve into a paradigm shift in the fields of stem cell research and regenerative medicine. These multiple sources of neural cells cover a wide spectrum of safety that needs to be balanced with efficacy to determine the viability of the cellular product. In this article, we will review novel sources of neural cells and discuss current obstacles to developing them into viable cellular products for treating neurological disorders.

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