As a central tenet of regenerative biology is that processes controlling tissue generation during development often control its regeneration, the basic and translational stem cell research we are pursuing critically bridges between the understanding of human neural development in heath and disease, and the development of stem cell regenerative medicine.
Astrocytes, also called astroglia, are a major cellular constituent of the central nervous system (CNS) and play crucial roles in brain development, function, and integrity. Increasing evidence demonstrates that astroglia dysfunction occurs in a variety of neurological disorders ranging from CNS injuries to genetic diseases and chronic degenerative conditions. These new insights herald the concept that transplantation of astroglia could be of therapeutic value in treating the injured or diseased CNS. Recent technological advances in the generation of human astroglia from stem and progenitor cells have been prominent. Currently, we also focus on studying human astroglia development, developmental interactions between human astroglia and oligodendroglia, and establishing human PSC-derived astroglia therapies for treating myelin loss disorders, such as brain hypoxic-ischemic injury and multiple sclerosis, through promoting proliferation and maturation of resident oligodendroglia progenitor cells and further enhancing myelination or remyelination (Figure 2).