Sances S, Bruijn LI, Chandran S, Eggan K, Ho R, Klim JR, Livesey MR, Lowry E, Macklis JD, Rushton D, Sadegh C, Sareen D, Wichterle H, Zhang SC, Svendsen CN. 2016. Modeling ALS with motor neurons derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells. Nature neuroscience. 19(4):542-53. Pubmed: 27021939 DOI:10.1038/nn.4273


Directing the differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells into motor neurons has allowed investigators to develop new models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). However, techniques vary between laboratories and the cells do not appear to mature into fully functional adult motor neurons. Here we discuss common developmental principles of both lower and upper motor neuron development that have led to specific derivation techniques. We then suggest how these motor neurons may be matured further either through direct expression or administration of specific factors or coculture approaches with other tissues. Ultimately, through a greater understanding of motor neuron biology, it will be possible to establish more reliable models of ALS. These in turn will have a greater chance of validating new drugs that may be effective for the disease.

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Photo of Jeffrey D. Macklis

Jeffrey Macklis investigates molecular controls and mechanisms over neuron subtype specification, development, diversity, axon guidance-circuit formation, and pathology in the cerebral cortex. His lab seeks to apply developmental controls toward brain and spinal cord regeneration and directed differentiation for in vitro mechanistic modeling using human assembloids.

Photo of Kevin Eggan

Kevin Eggan investigates the mechanisms that cause motor neuron degeneration in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and seeks to translate new discoveries into new therapeutic options for patients.

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