Updated on 12 February 2013
They found that the OPCs spread throughout the brain and began to produce myelin. They observed that hiPSC-derived cells did this even more quickly, efficiently, and effectively than cells created using tissue-derived OPCs. The animals were also free of any tumors, a dangerous potential side effect of some stem cell therapies, and survived significantly longer than untreated mice.
Dr Goldman, lead author of the study, said, "It appears that cells derived from hiPSC are at least as effective as those created using embryonic or tissue-specific stem cells. Compared to neurons, which are among the first cells formed in human development, there are more stages and many more steps required to create glial cells such as OPCs."
He added, "This process requires that we understand the basic biology and the normal development of these cells and then reproduce this precise sequence in the lab. The new population of OPCs and oligodendrocytes was dense, abundant, and complete. In fact, the re-myelination process appeared more rapid and efficient than with other cell sources."
The next stage in evaluating these cells is clinical studies. Dr Goldman, along with a team of researchers and clinicians from Rochester, Syracuse, and Buffalo, are preparing to launch a clinical trial using OPCs to treat multiple sclerosis. This group, titled the 'Upstate MS Consortium', has been approved for funding by New York State Stem Cell Science (NYSTEM). While the consortia's initial study, the early stages of which are scheduled to begin in 2015, will focus on cells derived from tissue sources, Dr Goldman anticipates that hiPSC-derived OPCs will eventually be included in this project.