Deciphering the mechanisms that regulate cell fate specification in vertebrate development is fundamental for generating specific cell types in vitro from pluripotent stem cells with the aim to model and eventually treat human diseases. Most of these diseases involve complex interactions between different cell types thus a system that will allow the generation of multiple functional cell types in an organized, timely and spatially restricted fashion could greatly facilitate the discovery of new disease mechanisms and treatments.
Figure1: Schematic diagram of different stem cell fate decisions. The efficient generation of functional cell types requires cells to pass through the correct intermediate stages similar to those that occur in vivo. An example is the efficient generation of spinal cord neurons from Neuromesodermal Progenitors (NMPs).