Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), adult cells genetically reprogrammed into an embryonic stem cell-like state, are becoming a powerful tool for research and drug development in ALS. iPSCs derived from sporadic and familiar ALS patients are being used to understand mechanisms of the disease and to screen for candidate ALS drugs (for a recent example, see April 2014 News). However, motor neurons derived from iPSCs often resemble embryonic rather than mature motor neurons affected in ALS. A new study published May 12 in Development online and led by Anna Philpott from the University of Cambridge, UK, describes a method to accelerate differentiation and maturation of neurons from fibroblast-derived from iPSCs. By modifying one of the key reprogramming transcription factors, the researchers were able to make the cells more prone to differentiation. To read more about the research behind the new approach for promoting neuronal maturation of iPSCs, click here.
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