Terminally differentiated cells reportedly retain major liver-specific functions including cytochrome P450 enzymes.

Merck KGaA’s life science division EMD Millipore has been signed up as the first distributor for Biopredic’s HepaRG™ human hepatic cells. The cells, derived from a hepatocellular carcinoma, are provided as cryopreserved, terminally differentiated cells that express major liver-specific functions including cytochrome P450 enzymes and drug transporters.

Biopredic claims the HepaRG cells demonstrate a number of advantages over primary hepatocytes and liver slices for applications in characterizing the uptake, metabolism, and disposition of drug candidates, and for high-throughput screening, and also over other transformed lines that display loss of specific liver functions such as cytochrome P450.

France-based Biopredic specializes in developing human and animal primary cells, cell lines, and tissues for research, drug discovery, drug development, pharmacology, and toxicology. Given that over 900 drugs have been implicated in causing liver injury and toxicity, there is an increasing need for more accurate prediction of hepatic cytotoxicity and genotoxicity in humans, claims Umesh A. Patel, Ph.D., director for lead discovery at EMD Millipore. “While in vitro human liver preparations offer the most pertinent models, availability and interdonor variability are significant drawbacks. In contrast, HepaRG cells reproducibly express the activities of drug metabolizing enzymes and transporters to facilitate ADME/tox studies.”

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