StemCell Services, based at the West of Scotland Science Park in Glasgow, have applied their expertise in neuronal cell culture to derive functional neuronal cells from human stem cells.
The embryonic-derived cells are shown to exhibit typical neuronal-like morphology with small cell bodies and extended processes which form networks in the tissue culture dish. These cells are shown to be positive for markers of mature neurons, and interestingly have been shown to exhibit excitable properties typical of neuronal cells.
This is a very important development for the new company. Electrophysiology is the gold standard technology used to understand the electrical functioning of brain cells, such as neurons, and can subsequently be utilized to investigate the effects of compounds on neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinsons or Alzheimers.
The use of stem cells in drug discovery provides an unlimited source of physiologically relevant human cells that can avoid expensive time-consuming mistakes and expand understanding of pathways and mechanisms associated with debilitating diseases.