Human neural stem cells (NSCs) hold enormous promise for neurological disorders, typically requiring their expandable and differentiable properties for regeneration of damaged neural tissues. Despite the therapeutic potential of induced NSCs (iNSCs), a major challenge for clinical feasibility is the presence of integrated transgenes in the host genome, contributing to the risk for undesired genotoxicity and tumorigenesis. Here, we describe the advanced transgene-free generation of iNSCs from human urine-derived cells (HUCs) by combining a cocktail of defined small molecules with self-replicable mRNA delivery. The established iNSCs were completely transgene-free in their cytosol and genome and further resembled human embryonic stem cell-derived NSCs in the morphology, biological characteristics, global gene expression, and potential to differentiate into functional neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. Moreover, iNSC colonies were observed within eight days under optimized conditions, and no teratomas formed in vivo, implying the absence of pluripotent cells. This study proposes an approach to generate transplantable iNSCs that can be broadly applied for neurological disorders in a safe, efficient, and patient-specific manner.
- direct conversion
- induced neural stem cells (iNSCs)
- neurological diseases
- self-replicative mRNA
- small molecules