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June 12, 2020: At Journal Club, our experts sat down to discuss a paper on a new method for purifying astrocytes derived from stem cells.
Astrocytes are a type of cell in the central nervous system that play an essential role in supporting the blood-brain barrier. Previous research on mouse models suggests that diseased astrocytes contribute to neurological illnesses such as MS. Thus, it is imperative that MS researchers create reliable scientific methods for studying both healthy and diseased human astrocytes. This research group identified a new astrocyte marker, CD49f, that can be used to purify human stem cell-derived astrocytes (CD49f+ hiPSC-astrocytes) for further experimentation. They found that CD49f+ hiPSC-astrocytes performed typical astrocyte functions in the lab and became neurotoxic and reactive in response to inflammation. The results of this study suggest that CD49f + hiPSC-astrocytes cultured in the lab can act as a reliable model for functional and dysfunctional astrocytes found in the body. Further research is needed to better understand how to fully utilize this novel astrocyte model.