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Mature ‘lab grown’ neurons hold promise for neurodegenerative disease

January 12, 2023

Northwestern University-led researchers have created the first highly mature neurons from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), a feat that opens new opportunities for medical research and potential transplantation therapies for neurodegenerative diseases and traumatic injuries.

Although previous researchers have differentiated stem cells to become neurons, those neurons were functionally immature — resembling neurons from embryonic or early postnatal stages. The limited maturation obtained with current stem cell culture techniques diminish their potential for neurodegeneration studies. 

The study was published today (Jan. 12) in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

To create the mature neurons, the team used “dancing molecules,” a breakthrough technique introduced in late 2021 by Northwestern professor Samuel I. Stupp. The team first differentiated human iPSCs into motor and cortical neurons and then placed them onto coatings of synthetic nanofibers containing the rapidly moving dancing molecules.

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