What are induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells and how do they relate to the brain? The topic is the focus of “Your Brain Under the Microscope: The Promise of Stem Cells,” our Cerebrum feature for January.
Until recently, scientists primarily worked with two kinds of stem cells: embryonic stem cells and non-embryonic “somatic” or “adult” stem cells from animals and humans. They are just now beginning to improve their understanding of IPS cells, believing that they may help unlock the mystery behind a number of brain disorders.
The authors of our story are Dana Alliance member Fred H. Gage, Ph.D., and Maria C. Marchetto, Ph.D., at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA. Gage, the Adler Professor in the Laboratory of Genetics, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on IPS cells. Marchetto is a senior staff scientist in Gage’s lab and is involved in understanding the mechanisms by which human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells become a fully developed functional neuron.