Recent progress shows that neurons suitable for transplantation can be generated from stem cells in culture, and that the adult brain produces new neurons from its own stem cells in response to injury. These findings raise hope for the development of stem cell therapies in human neurodegenerative disorders. Before clinical trials are initiated, we need to know much more about how to control stem cell proliferation and differentiation into specific phenotypes, induce their integration into existing neural and synaptic circuits, and optimize functional recovery in animal models closely resembling the human disease.
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We thank Bengt Mattsson for illustrations. Our own work was supported by grants from the Swedish Research Council, Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, the Kock, Söderberg, Crafoord and Segerfalk Foundations, EU (BIO04-CT98-0530 and QLK3-CT-2001-02120), Foundation La Caixa, and Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology (MCYT SAF2001-1038-C02-02). The Lund Stem Cell Center is supported by a Center of Excellence grant in life sciences from the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Lindvall, O., Kokaia, Z. & Martinez-Serrano, A. Stem cell therapy for human neurodegenerative disorders–how to make it work. Nat Med 10 (Suppl 7), S42–S50 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1038/nm1064
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