Cellular Dynamics International is announcing the launch of the first human cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for use in screening new drug candidates for drug toxicity and for drug discovery. iCell Cardiomyocytes mimic the biochemical and electrophysiological activity of normal human heart muscle cells. They also beat in culture. This is important for both pharmaceutical companies and patients because current models for toxicity screening and drug discovery are either animal cells, human cancer cell lines or cells from cadaveric tissue. None of these accurately mimic normal cells the way that iCell Cardiomyocytes do. This has resulted in the launch of drugs, terfenidine and cisapride are two examples, that have caused patient deaths due to cardiotoxicity that was not identified in preclinical testing. iCell Cardiomyocytes should reduce this risk. Following extensive validation testing, both internally and with pharmaceutical customers (ex. Roche), the cells are ready for commercial use.
CDI has also accomplished an essential step for the commercial use of stem cells that many talk about but have not yet done. They have industrialized the process of making both iPSCs and iCell Cardiomyocytes so that CDI makes billions of cells on a weekly basis. CDI also provides the cells at an exceptionally high purity (>98%). Drug companies require large and consistent numbers of differentiated cells at high purity to be able to be able to use them in their discovery and toxicity screening systems. CDI is the only company to yet accomplish this task.