Could there be another strategy for oligodendrocyte generation using induced stem cells? This is what results of a collaborative study involving the team led by Anne Baron-Van Evercooren at the Institut du Cerveau – ICM point to. The cells, produced in a laboratory setting, may be of particular interest in understanding myelin-related disorders such as multiple sclerosis or leukodystrophy, and in developing new treatment.
Oligodendrocytes are central nervous system cells responsible for producing myelin sheathing, the insulating layer that enables proper transfer of information within neurons and, in certain pathologies, is destroyed.
Currently, hope for new therapy including remyelinating therapy or immunotherapy, through modulation of the immune system’s actions, is slowed due to lack of human cell models and especially for oligodendrocytes.
This is where researchers come in ! Their work focuses on induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS. These cells are laboratory-developed and can transform into different types of cells: liver cells, muscular cells, or neurons, as long as they are exposed to the right type of signal. Researchers then implemented a protocol associating three key molecules in oligodendrocyte development: SOX10, OLIG2, and NKX6.2, enabling rapid and efficient generation of human oligodendrocytes from iPS.
These “induced” oligodendrocytes have demonstrated nervous system myelination capabilities in mouse models, during the developmental stage and in the demyelinated spinal cord in humans.
This discovery is a major step towards modelling myelin-related disorders and gaining a deeper understanding of these illnesses, as well as a major step towards testing the therapeutic potential of pro-myelinating compounds.
Source: Rapid and efficient generation of oligodendrocytes from human induced pluripotent stem cells using transcription factors. Ehrlich M, Mozafari S, Glatza M, Starost L, Velychko S, Hallmann AL, Cui QL, Schambach A, Kim KP, Bachelin C, Marteyn A, Hargus G, Johnson RM, Antel J, Sterneckert J, Zaehres H, Schöler HR, Baron-Van Evercooren A, Kuhlmann T. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Mar 14;114(11):E2243-E2252.