First pioneered in 2006, induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology makes it possible to create stem cells in the laboratory from any person who donates a skin or blood sample. The stem cells can then be transformed into brain, heart and many other types of cell so that, for stem cells created from individuals suffering from a disease, researchers are then able to replicate the disease under laboratory conditions. This “disease in a dish” research is creating the means to study the early stages of many diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, which was previously not possible.
iPSC based phenotypic assays and compound screening
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have the potential to transform drug discovery by providing physiologically relevant cells for compound screening, target validation, toxicity testing and patient stratification.
Drug discovery companies are increasingly recognising that iPSC technology will allow them to test potential new drugs in the laboratory more effectively – reducing the risk of expensive failures in clinical trials. Because human disease models are usually preferable to animal models, iPSC technology is expected to lead to fewer experimental animals being needed in future.