Cord blood cells are easily available and preserved, and they could potentially serve as a routine starting material for isolation and expansion of cells for allogenic as well as authologous transplantations. But their potential to form human neural cells was unknown. In 15 May Journal of Cell Science, L. Buzanska and colleagues from Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, show for the first time that cells derived from human cord blood can achieve neuronal and glial features in vitro (J Cell Sci 2002, 115:2131-2138).

Buzanska et al. used cord blood cell subfractionation and isolated a clonogenic fraction that could be oriented towards the three main neural phenotypes: neurons, astroglia and oligodendroglia. The cells showed a high commitment to neuronal and astrocytic fate — about 30% and 40% of the population, respectively. In addition, the neural-type precursor cells of cord blood origin also gave rise to a relatively high...

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