Embryonic stem (ES) cells can in theory produce all cell types of a living organism while renewing themselves with a stable genetic background. These unique features make ES cells a favorable tool for biomedical researches as well as a potential source for therapeutic application. A first step for approaching to ES cells is the directed differentiation to cells of interest, such as the neural cell lineage. Here, we summarize the up and down sides of each category of neural differentiation protocols that have so far been used in mouse and human ES cells, and introduce an efficient and plausible method used in our laboratory for derivation of neuroectodermal cells from human ES cells. This synthesis has led to our suggestions on issues for future design of neural differentiation protocols.
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