Stem Cell Sciences plc has entered an agreement with the Myelin Repair Foundation (MRF, Saratoga, CA) for the development of techniques that will lead to scalable and sustainable sources of uniform human brain cells for research, target validation and drug discovery assays.
Being able to utilize human brain cells would be a significant step forward to confirm results from animal research experiments in demonstrating the relevance of any new drug therapy for CNS disorders.
Under the terms of the agreement, researchers at the MRF-supported Human Neural Assay Center, located at Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio), will optimize sustainable methods for culturing SCS’ human neural stem (NS) cells and subsequent differentiation into the three principal cell types normally found in the brain: neurons, oligodendrocytes and astrocytes.
Historically, access to primary human brain tissue suitable for cell culture has been extremely limited and tissue that was available has been difficult to sustain in culture. Using human NS cells overcomes this problem by providing a constant, dependable and unlimited source of brain cells.
Through this collaboration the parties expect to develop new methods and materials that can be readily utilized by the entire neuroscience community. SCS has the right to first negotiation on commercializing any new products resulting from this collaboration.
Utilizing human brain cells in place of animal cells at an initial research stage eliminates the genetic variation between species and may significantly improve the relevancy of results in early-stage drug discovery.
“The inherent limitations of animal models in all disease research have been a source of considerable frustration to scientists and those involved in commercial drug discovery,” says MRF Chief Operating Officer Russell Bromley.
“The inability to achieve concordance between the results achieved in animal models and humans is one of the most common reasons for the failure to advance even the most promising drug targets into commercial development and patient treatments,” says Bromley.
“SCS recognizes the vision of MRF in developing a robust method based on our NS cells that will ensure increased relevance of early-stage investigations and assessing their therapeutic potential,” says SCS Chief Scientific Officer Tim Allsopp. “It is exciting to participate in such important scientific work, which we hope will have a significant, lasting impact.
“We are delighted to partner with SCS to accomplish our goal of developing and licensing commercially viable drug targets that will lead to myelin repair treatments for multiple sclerosis,” Bromley added. “Equally important, however, this is a partnership that could bear fruit for research on all diseases of the CNS.”