Geron Corporation and CXR Biosciences Ltd. have announced the conclusion of a research collaboration that focused on the development of human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived hepatocytes for use in in-vitro assays of drug metabolism and toxicity.
Geron and CXR will equally share rights to intellectual property developed during the collaboration. Established in May 2004 between Geron, CXR and the Roslin Institute, the collaboration resulted in the successful development of enhanced protocols for the derivation of hepatocytes from hESCs, as well as intellectual property related to the use of gene-reporter constructs in combination with hESC-derived hepatocytes.
“We anticipate leveraging the intellectual property developed under the collaboration in commercial applications,” said David L. Greenwood, Geron’s executive vice president.
Dr. Tom Shepherd, chief executive of CXR commented, “This collaboration has demonstrated that human stem cells have the potential to be differentiated into hepatocytes with utility for the generation of metabolic, toxicological and mechanistic information, which can be further enhanced through the inclusion of gene expression reporter systems.”
Sourcing of human hepatocytes for in vitro assays is a fundamental bottleneck in pharmaceutical drug development. Primary human hepatocytes have been used for drug metabolism and hepatotoxicity studies and have been sourced traditionally from cadavers or liver resections. However, the phenotype and age of these cells varies widely because of differences among the sourced donors.
Additionally, because hepatocyte function cannot be sustained in culture for more than a few days, the availability of primary hepatocytes is dependent on repetitive sourcing, creating supply constraints and further contributing to assay variability.
Geron has issued patents covering hepatocyte cells differentiated from hESCs and methods of drug screening using hepatocyte cells differentiated from hESCs and CXR has issued patents covering gene reporter systems.