Partners aim to generate ventricular heart cells from 250 iPSC lines for genetic research.

Cellular Dynamics and the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) have been awarded a $6.25 million grant over five years to fund stem-cell based studies into the mechanisms underlying left ventricular hypertrophy. Using Cellular Dynamics technology , the partners aim to generate 250 induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines from blood samples taken from Caucasian and African-American families in the Hypertension Genetic Epidemiology Network (HyperGEN). The iPSC lines will then be differentiated into ventricular heart cells for use in genetic studies.

Cellular Dynamics says the ability to generate patient-specific ventricular cells will enable a new level of research into the genetics and mechanisms of left ventricular hypertrophy that to date hasn’t been possible because of the unavailability of primary human cardiomyocytes for functional studies. The firm also claims it has the capacity to manufacture iPSCs and differentiate them in large enough numbers, and at the required purity to enable MCW to carry out genetic studies.

“This technology is truly revolutionary since each cell line stands for an individual patient, we can now start to study the unique disease mechanisms and test new treatments and drugs based on each individual’s unique genetic makeup,” remarks Ulrich Broeckel, M.D., professor of pediatrics, medicine and physiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin and associate director at the Children’s Research Institute. “This grant builds on years of our research to identify genes for this disease.”

Cellular Dynamics is exploiting its iPS 2.0 cell technology to generate fully functional human cells derived from iPSCs, for applications in targeted drug discovery, toxicity testing, and life science research. The firm’s flagship iCell® Cardiomyocytes are highly purified human cardiomyocytes comprising a mixture of spontaneously electrically active atrial, nodal, and ventricular-like myocytes. It claims the cells possess typical electrophysiological characteristics and demonstrate the expected electrophysiological and biochemical responses following exposure to exogenous agents. The cells express monomeric red fluorescent protein (mRFP) and blasticidin resistance, both under the control of the alpha-myosin heavy chain (Myh6) promoter, to allow simultaneous cardiomyocyte purification and identification.

Cellular Dynamics is also developing human iPSC-derived endothelial cells, neurons and hepatocytes for use in drug discovery, toxicity testing, and predictive disease modeling.  Launch of the iCell Endothelial Cells and iCell Neurons is expected during 2011, with iCell Hepatocytes scheduled for release in 2012. In June the firm inked a Japanese distribution deal for its iCell Cardiomyocytes, with iPSC Academia Japan.

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