The primary therapeutic goal of embryonic stem cell (ESC) research is cell replacement therapy. During the last decade, great strides have been made in developing in vitro protocols for differentiating human ESCs into neuroepithelial progenitors. More recent progress has been made in further directing them into becoming cells with specialized regional and neurotransmitter identities, such as midbrain dopaminergic and spinal motor neurons. Along with directed differentiation, other current efforts are aimed at efficient enrichment, avoidance of immune rejection, demonstration of functional integration, genetic modification to regulate neurotransmitter and factor release, directed axon growth, in vivo cell tracking, and measures to ensure safety. This review will focus on the potential of ESCs as a source of transplantable cells for use in cell replacement therapy.
- CNS cell transplantation
- Cell replacement therapy
- Directed neural differentiation
- Embryonic stem cells
- Restorative neurosurgery