From tools for studying mechanisms of neuronal differentiation towards therapy
Stem cells are fascinating cell types. They can replicate themselves forever while retaining the potential to generate progeny with speci?c functions. Because of these special properties, stem cells have been subjects of intensive investigation, from understanding basic mechanisms underlying tissue generation, to modeling human diseases, to application for cell replacement therapy. Stem cells come in different forms. For example, mouse embryonic stem cells can general all cell types in a body, either in a dish or when put back into mouse embryos. On the other hand, neural stem cells in the adult brain generate neurons and glia cells that contribute to the brain’s plasticity. Rapid progress has been made in the stem cell ?eld with discov- ies published in a record speed. A quick Pubmed search has returned 2789 hits for “embryonic stem cells” and 815 hits for “adult neural stem cells/neurogenesis” in the year 2008 alone. It remains a taunting task for all who are interested in stem cells to keep up with rapidly accumulating literatures. The “Perspectives of Stem Cells” by a truly international team of experts provides a timely and invaluable highlight of the stem cell ?eld gearing toward future therapeutic applications in the nervous system. Stem cells with neural potentials have attracted a lot of attention because of their promise for cell replacement therapy, ranging from degenerative neurological dis- ders to spinal cord injuries.
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