Embryonic stem (ES) cells display a prodigious ability to differentiate into diverse cell types and are seen as a promising renewable source of specialized cells for use in regenerative medicine. Since the use of human stem cells raises ethical concerns and is tightly regulated, animal models provide a useful tool to further explore the potential of this technology. In the September 21 Nature Biotechnology, Tiziano Barberi and colleagues at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center demonstrate that transplantation of dopaminergic neurons derived from cloned mouse ES cells can significantly improve the condition of parkinsonian mice (Nature Biotechnology, DOI:10.1038/nbt870, September 21, 2003).

Barberi et al. developed an improved cell culture system that allowed the rapid and efficient derivation of most nervous system neural subtypes. They could selectively generate highly enriched populations of dopaminergic, serotonergic, cholinergic, and GABAergic neurons, as well as astroglia and oligodendroglia. When transplanted into the brains...

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