At the 38th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, researchers have identified an ideal time to collect human embryonic stem cells to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Lorraine Iacovitti, Ph.D., professor and interim director of the Farber Institute for Neurosciences of Thomas Jefferson University have found that a stage during dopamine neuron differentiation can be the ideal time for that. The researcher team found that neural progenitor cells that express the gene Lmx1a are committed to the midbrain dopamine neuron lineage, but still retain proliferative capacity. Because of these characteristics, the stage at which Lmx1a is expressed may be ideal for transplantation.

The Lmx1a-positive cells cannot be identified solely by this transcription factor. However, Dr. Iacovitti and her team also found that a large percentage of the Lmx1a-positive cells express a cell surface protein called TrkB. This protein was not expressed on any of the other cell types identified in the cell culture. With TrkB as a cell surface marker, dopamine neuron progenitor cells derived from human embryonic stem cells can be selected from a heterogenous population using magnetic-activated cell sorting (MACS) or fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS).

Source: Science Daily