Recent advances in the establishment and controlled differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have generated new model systems to access the biology of early mammalian, including human, development and to investigate new approaches for regenerative medicine. Among the studies using pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), neural differentiation and its applications have received the most focus, because of the relative ease of neural induction in vitro and the high expectation for transplantation therapeutics to treat neurological disorders. The discovery of iPSCs increased the potential for developing efficient systems for drug discovery and screening, because they enable different types of functional neurons and their precursors to be generated in vitro from patients with genetic disorders. This chapter describes recent advances in protocols for the neural differentiation of PSCs that were designed using findings from basic embryology, and their possible applications.
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