Use of human neural tissue for the generation of progenitors
Accumulating evidence suggests that a better understanding of normal human brain stem cells and tumor stem cells (TSCs) will have profound implications for treating central nervous system disease during the next decade. Neurosurgeons routinely resect excess surgical tissue containing either normal brain stem cells or TSCs. These cells are immediately available for expansion and use in basic biological assays, animal implantation, and comparative analysis studies. Although normal stem cells have much slower kinetics of expansion than TSCs, they are easily expandable and can be frozen for future use in stem cell banks. This nearly limitless resource holds promise for understanding the basic biology of normal brain stem cells and TSCs, which will likely direct the next major shift in therapeutics for brain tumors, brain and spinal cord injury, and neurodegenerative disease. This report reviews the progress that has been made in harvesting and expanding both normal and tumor-derived stem cells and emphasizes the integral role neurosurgeons will play in moving the neural stem cell field forward.