Human cells integrate and function after injection into fetal mice
The invasive study of cellular and molecular pathogenesis in humans is in most cases impossible. Patient-derived and other human cells can, however, be studied intensively in host animals, enabling researchers to observe cell- and organ-specific phenotypes at close range and at fine scale using invasive techniques. The laboratory of SCSB investigator Rudolf Jaenisch has pioneered such techniques. As reported in an article appearing in PNAS, Malkiel Cohen and others in the Jaenisch lab have generated chimeric animals using several different types of stem cell-derived neural crest cells (NCCs). The introduced cells were tagged with fluorescent indicators to enable the researchers to track their migration, integration, and survival in mouse hosts. The researchers’ success in preserving the viability and function of these introduced cells – the human-derived cells integrated into the skin and grew hairs – is promising for enabling the chronic study of developmental disorders under physiologically relevant conditions.