Path to Better Drugs through Disease-Specific iPSCs

Induced human pluripotent stem cells

The recent finding that pluripotency, the ability to differentiate into all cell types typically associated with embryonic stem cells, can be induced in somatic cells may be the molecular equivalent of the discovery of antibiotics or vaccines in the last century [1].

iPSC-based disease modeling

Recent studies have described the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from patients with a full range of genetically inherited or sporadic diseases, and in vitro differentiation of these iPSCs to cell types relevant to the disorder with certain disease features.

Example 1 (out of ~20): Progressive motor neuron loss during differentiation of iPSCs derived from spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) patients, reflecting developmental loss seen in the disease.
Example 2: iPSCs made from RETT syndrome give rise to glutamatergic neurons with fewer synapses than controls, a better treatment was found from a panel of candidates based on this model.
Example 3: Neurons differentiated from iPSCs that have been derived from early or late onset Alzheimer’s disease were shown to display different properties and potential interference points.
The identification of novel pathways or drugs that could prevent disease is the ultimate goal of the iPSC-based disease modeling approach.

Major steps towards efficient iPSC disease modeling

The first hurdle for feasible application of patient-specific disease modeling is to achieve efficient generation of iPSCs from large cohorts of patients quickly and at a low cost while eliminating “clonal variations”. As described in a recent publication [2], the Allele Biotechnology team has shown that human fibroblasts can be converted to stem cells in just over a week, achieving bulk conversion efficiency without any chromosome modifications. The process is also xeno-free and feeder-free, enabling both fundamental scientific research and clinical applications.

The next major advancements required for disease modeling are robust lineage-specific differentiation protocols that provide a large number of desired cells for drug testing and screening. Cardiomyocytes derived from iPSCs have been the best known example of large expansion; other cell types will become available in the near future. Allele Biotechnology has commenced differentiating iPSCs along several lineages using our own iPSCs of superior quality.

With cells of disease-matching tissue types derived from patients’ iPSCs, cell-based assays can be designed and developed using various assay formats. Allele Biotech’s leading capacities in fluorescence and bioluminescence, gene silencing, delivery vehicles and single-domain targeting agents will be of unmatched value to drug discovery partners.

1. Review: Wu, SM and Hochedlinger, K. “Harnessing the potential of induced pluripotent stem cells for regenerative medicine ” 2011, Nature Cell Biology, V13-5, 497-505.
2. Allele Biotech publication: Warren, L., Ni, Y., Wang, J. and Guo, X. “Feeder-Free Derivation of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells with Messenger RNA” 2012, Nature’s Scientific Reports, doi:10.1038/srep00657.

For business development contact:
Fax 858-587-6692
6404 Nancy Ridge Drive
San Diego, CA 92121

Related products for academic customers: Non-Integrating iPSC Generation Product Line

New Product of the week: 6F mRNA Reprogramming Premix: $995 for 10 reprogramming!

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Allele Biotechnology Announces New advance in production of human stem cells

This week in the journal Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group) scientists from Allele Biotechnology describe an important advance in the generation of stem cells capable of producing all the different tissues of the human body. In an article entitled “Feeder-Free Derivation of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells with Messenger RNA,” Allele’s scientists present the fastest and safest method yet for converting ordinary human skin cells into “induced pluripotent stem cells” (iPSCs).

The scientific efforts were led by Dr. Luigi Warren, whose pioneering work on “footprint-free” reprogramming using messenger RNA was the foundation for Allele’s breakthrough. Through the united efforts of Dr. Warren and the scientists at Allele Biotechnology, his technique was re-engineered to increase cell conversion efficiency and eliminate any use of potentially unsafe reagents, while substantially reducing the time and effort needed to make stem cells. Dr. Warren believes that because of its advantages this technology “should become the method of choice for iPSC cell banking.”

According to Dr. Jiwu Wang, corresponding author on the paper and CEO of Allele Biotechnology, “This advance in stem cell derivation will enable both fundamental scientific research and clinical applications which has been the mission of Allele Biotechnology from its inception.”

Allele Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals Inc. is a San Diego-based biotechnology company that was established in 1999 by Dr. Jiwu Wang and colleagues. A research based company specializing in the fields of RNAi, stem cells, viral expression, camelid antibodies and fluorescent proteins; Allele Biotechnology has always striven to offer products and services at the cutting edge of research.

Allele Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Jiwu Wang, Ph.D., 858-587-6645 Ext 3
President and CEO
fax: 858-587-6692
Press release by BusinessWire. Also see Yahoo!News, Reuters, The Herald, etc.

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Reprogramming Life

President Obama is expected to lift the ban on federal fund for embryonic stem cell research soon. However, that does not seem to be the hottest topic these days concerning stem cell research. In 2006, Shinya Yamanaka showed that mouse skin cells could be reprogrammed back into something called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells by introducing a handful of cDNAs using retroviral vectors. The process was later repeated in human cells and by other groups including those of Thomson and Melton, sometimes with a slightly different set of inducing cDNAs, or with chemicals or shRNA repressing the repressors of the inducer genes.

The iPS cells are not exactly the same as ES cells, and no animals have been created using iPS cells, but they are close enough to be of great interest to lots of people, particularly for basic research purposes. The method to create iPS by reversing chromosomal changes along differentiation pathways appears to be surprisingly simple, like erasing an old audio tape, there may still be acoustic information left if analyzed by the right equipment, but to most people it is as clean as new. You’d wish a few things in life could be reversed that easily!

For labs that are not already in the stem cell field but feel a need to get their feet wet, then they want reagents that are pre-assembled and pre-tested. Such reagents may include: iPS cultures, iPS inducing viral particles, antibodies to stem cell specific markers, cell assays, and even PCR primer sets (synthesizing hundreds of oligos used in the Yamanaka papers alone will take a lot time and unnecessary costs). That’s where a fast-moving, research-oriented company like Allele comes in. We will bring what we think as starter sets for you, and listen to what you think as needed as we along. The new iPS product line will be launched within weeks, hopefully coinciding with our brand new webpages for all our current product lines!

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Monday, February 23rd, 2009 iPSCs and other stem cells No Comments