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CDI’s iCell™ Cardiomyocytes Named to MIT Technology Review’s Annual 10 Emerging Technologies List

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Cellular Dynamics International (CDI) has announced that CDI’s development and commercialization of human cardiomyocytes for drug discovery and toxicity testing, based on the work of CDI co-founder and chief scientific officer, James A. Thomson, Ph.D., on induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSCs) technology, have been named to the MIT Technology Review’s Annual 10 Emerging Technologies List.  

Utilizing research emerging from Dr. Thomson’s laboratory, strong intellectual property and exclusively licensed patents from several universities, CDI has developed a proprietary process in which it has industrialized the manufacture of human tissue cells in high quantity, quality and purity. These terminally-differentiated tissue cells are designed to be used in drug discovery to improve the predictability of drug compound efficacy and toxicity screens, weeding out ineffective and potentially toxic compounds early in the pharmaceutical pipeline process before significant time and resources have been invested. Human heart cells (branded iCell™ Cardiomyocytes) are the first cells that CDI has commercialized.

“Stem cell technology has significant potential to improve human health,” said James A. Thomson, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of CDI and director of Regenerative Biology at the Morgridge Institute for Research and professor of anatomy at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

“However, its application as a therapy could be a decade or more away. Our work at CDI is focused on applying stem cell technology to human health today. That is why we have concentrated our efforts on developing human cell-based systems to improve drug discovery and toxicity testing. Current cell models to test drugs are inadequate. They miss toxicities that might have been observed in a human cell model. We believe that drug candidates tested with our cells will face a more rigorous and valid pre-clinical evaluation. This should result in safer and potentially more efficacious compounds that will be made available to patients quicker and more efficiently.”

Robert Palay, chief executive officer of CDI, continued, “The technology out of Dr. Thomson’s laboratory has enabled us to launch iCell Cardiomyocytes, our first human iPSC-derived cells, that we can manufacture in large quantities at high quality and purity and provide as drug discovery and toxicity testing tools to pharmaceutical companies. We look forward to growing this product and future products with our pharmaceutical customers. We are currently developing line extensions of iCell Cardiomyocytes, including panels from different ethnic groups. The beauty of iPSC technology is that it provides our customers with the opportunity to compare the responses of tissue cells from different individuals. We are also working on launching other iPSC-derived iCell products, like hepatic, neuronal, and endothelial cells.”

“The annual TR10 spotlights the emerging technologies we find most exciting. These are the innovations most likely to alter industries, fields of research, and even the way we live and work,” said Jason Pontin, editor-in-chief and publisher of Technology Review magazine. “We celebrate the innovators making these accomplishments possible and look forward to their continued advancement within their respective fields.”