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N.Y. Stem Cell Foundation Grows Brain Immune Cells in a Dish, Offering Clues into MS Research

May 31, 2017

Researchers from the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) have developed a method to produce brain immune cells (microglia) from human stem cells. This can help scientists uncover biological mechanisms involved in multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neurological conditions. Microglia cells guard the brain, removing toxic elements and protein abnormal depositions. This prevents brain inflammation and promotes tissue regeneration and repair. NYCF’s study, “Directed Differentiation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells to Microglia,” describes how researchers created a new source of human microglia cells that can provide better biological information.

According to the study, this microglia protocol is optimized for use in high-throughput experiments, such as drug screening and toxicity testing. It also has the benefit of allowing such experiments to be carried out on multiple patient samples. Authors of the study believe that their protocol provides “a new source of human microglial cells, which will complement studies in mouse models to better understand the role of microglia in health and disease.” This could help researchers investigate microglia dysfunction in central nervous system disorders and advance complex disease modeling in a dish.

“NYSCF’s mission is to bring cures to patients faster,” Susan L. Solomon, CEO and co-founder of NYSCF, said in a press release. “One way we work towards this goal is by developing methods and models that lift the entire field of stem cell research. This new protocol is the perfect example of the type of method that will enable researchers around the world to accelerate their work.”