The past few years have seen major advances in the field of NSC (neural stem cell) research with increasing emphasis towards its application in cell-replacement therapy for neurological disorders. However, the clinical application of NSCs will remain largely unfeasible until a comprehensive understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of NSC fate specification is achieved. With this understanding will come an increased possibility to exploit the potential of stem cells in order to manufacture transplantable NSCs able to provide a safe and effective therapy for previously untreatable neurological disorders. Since the pathology of each of these disorders is determined by the loss or damage of a specific neural cell population, it may be necessary to generate a range of NSCs able to replace specific neurons or glia rather than generating a generic NSC population. Currently, a diverse range of strategies is being investigated with this goal in mind. In this review, we focus on the relationship between NSC specification and differentiation and discuss how this information may be used to direct NSCs towards a particular fate.

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