Sunday, September 28, 2008

Predictive Toxicology and CIRM's Priorities

Looking for a key to the CIRM cash drawer?

There may be several in a document recently posted on the agency's website. The 35-page piece is called "Stem Cells in Predictive Toxicology." It grew out of a CIRM workshop back in July.

One section of the report targeted "areas of priority" for CIRM, which said in part,
"For these methods to become mainstream, it will also be necessary to develop improved protocols for cell growth, maintenance, and differentiation, and to define in vitro phenotypes that correspond to relevant human endpoints. A second critical goal will be the derivation of iPS cell lines from a diversity of individuals, including those with known disorders or disease susceptibilities, to
allow for the development of comprehensive, customizable approaches for correlating toxicity mechanisms with variable individual response."
The report also said,
"These 'clinical trials in a dish' could help inform and optimize further trials in humans. Workshop participants agreed that the use of stem cell-based assays in the process of drug discovery has the potential to reduce late-stage attrition, to lower the cost of drug discovery, and to help understand the genetic contribution to drug susceptibility."
It continued,
"Workshop participants were extremely enthusiastic about the potential for stem cells to provide superior model systems for predicting toxicity in drugs and environmental pollutants. While technological and cultural hurdles exist, experts were optimistic that these could be overcome. Even in a limited capacity, incorporation of human cell based assays into drug discovery efforts and environmental toxicity screens offers the potential for safer, more customized medicines, reduced costs of drug discovery, reduced or refined use of animal models, and more accurate risk assessment for environmental pollutants."
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