Investigators at UCLA have demonstrated that human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can be differentiated into electrically active motor neurons. Additionally, interim research showed that these motor neurons seemed to be molecularly and physiologically indistinguishable from motor neurons derived from human embryonic stem cells.
The team reprogrammed skin fibroblasts back into an embryonic state. They then took those cells and differentiated them into motor neurons. Human iPS-derived cells appeared to follow a normal developmental progression associated with motor neuron formation and possessed prototypical electrophysiological properties, according to the researchers.
The next step is to combine the motor neurons with muscle cells to see if they can stimulate a response. The current study appears today in the early online edition of Stem Cells.