Fetal Neuron Grafts Pave the Way for Stem Cell Therapies

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Science  25 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5457, pp. 1421-1422
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5457.1421

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Over the past 10 years, researchers have learned that fetal nerve cell transplants can alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. But despite the promise these cells have shown, they will never be widely used, for reasons ranging from ethical concerns to the fact that there will simply never be enough fetal tissue to treat the 1 million Parkinson's patients in the United States alone. The hope now is that stem cells can be used instead. To do so, however, researchers must first learn how to keep stem cells dividing for many generations in culture and then be able to trigger them to differentiate into the type of neuron they want, as it may be crucial to use the specific type of dopamine neurons that die in Parkinson's.