A better understanding of engrafted stem cells in situ is required before we progress towards their successful clinical application in therapies. Research in Nature Communications assesses the safety and efficacy of neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs), and finds their behaviour differs when engrafted into rats from that predicted by experiments in cell culture.
NSPC transplantation is a promising treatment for neurodegenerative disorders, but until now researchers have not analysed their profile after transplantation. Seiji Okada and colleagues evaluated, and compared, the cellular properties of the cells pre-transplantation, after seven days in culture, in naive, and in injured spinal cord in mice. Using bioimaging, flow-cytometric isolation and ultra-high-throughput RNA sequencing they show that although the cells had beneficial effects on spinal cord injury, their behaviour differed significantly from predictions based on work in cell cultures. The results highlight the vulnerability of these cells to their environment, but emphasise the importance of further analysis before the advance of stem cell based therapies.