Making stem cells to make nerves

Goto K, Imamura K, Komatsu K, Mitani K, Aiba K, Nakatsuji N, Inoue M, Kawata A, Yamashita H, Takahashi R, Inoue H.Simple Derivation of Spinal Motor Neurons from ESCs/iPSCs Using Sendai Virus Vectors. Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev. 2017 Jan 10;4:115-125. 

Embryonic stem cells (ESCs)/induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) now help us to understand the pathomechanisms of disease via disease modeling. Various methods to differentiate ESCs/iPSCs into MNs by the addition of signaling molecules have been reported. However, classical methods require multiple steps, and newer simple methods using the transduction of transcription factors run the risk of genomic integration of the vector genes. Heterogeneity of the expression levels of the transcription factors also remains an issue. Here we describe a novel approach for differentiating human and mouse ESCs/iPSCs into motor nerves (MNs) using a single Sendai virus vector encoding three transcription factors, LIM/homeobox protein 3, neurogenin 2, and islet-1, which are integration free. This single-vector method, generating HB9-positive cells on day 2 from human iPSCs, increases the ratio of MNs to neurons compared to the use of three separate Sendai virus vectors. In addition, the MNs derived via this method from iPSCs of ALS patients and model mice display disease phenotypes. This simple approach significantly reduces the efforts required to generate MNs, and it provides a useful tool for disease modeling.

People complain about the use of animals in research, but people working with animals need special permissions and ethical approval and this involves consideration for the 3Rs. In addition each year the number of animals you use need to be recorded and reported. 

However, there is a massive misleading fudge and this if from the people who use animal cells in cell culture. Because you are not doing anything to the animal in life, it goes unreported in UK and you don’t need special licences and you don’t need ethics.

Therefore thousands upon thousands of animals are used and worse, is especially for neuroscience, they use pregnant females to get foetuses to make nerves because they grow in culture at that young age and this is where a lot of the oligodendrocyte stuff is done. A lot is done with rats cells

Surprised? So am I, but this is the fudge the Home office has concockted to look like fewer animals are used. 

So if you want to cut animal useage drastically, you make these studies to get ethics and on ethical grounds the majority of studies will fail. 

Why, because in this day and age, you don’t need animals to make cells. You can grow them from stem cells and you can use human cells.   

So why bother using animals cells to study human biology?

Yes it may cost more but you can’t use the cost argument in most cases.

IPSC cells are inducible stem cells, you can make them from any cell with a set of transcription factors that make certain genes active. In this study they use a viral vector to produce these factors and can be used to make motor nerves, 

So why use animals to make nerves.

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  • Hi MD!

    Tis' why I am a proponent of collective level funding of neurological stem cell research towards regeneration in the hands of people who academically are learning.

    Seems to me alot of stem cell targeted research thinks "top down" where-as just like stem cells, need be thinking "bottom up"

    To paraphrase if I may… One can build computer software top down. However, without knowing a computer language cant really think top down.

    Considering the complexities of stem cells and their varied factors, triggers, characteristics towards their targeting, does it not make sense to be learning bottom up instead of attempting apply top down in advance of said knowledge?

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