Industry uses of human pluripotent stem cells

  • Senior Scientist, Amgen
      Stuart Chambers received his Ph.D. from Baylor College of Medicine in the lab of Margaret A Goodell in studying hematopoietic stem cell biology and gene therapy. His postdoctoral work was conducted in the lab of Lorenz Studer identifying methods to neuralize pluripotent stem cells for the purposes of creating neurons for use in cell therapy and induced pluripotent stem cell disease modeling. His cell therapy work was continued as a Scientist when he joined start-up company Neurona Therapeutics. He now works at Amgen as a Senior Scientist in Discovery Research within the Genome Analysis Unit and is tasked with using pluripotent stem cell derived cell fates for target identification, human disease modeling, and drug development.


    Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) and their derivatives are increasingly being used in industry to gain a competitive edge in drug discovery and a new wave of biotechnology start-up companies are poised to evaluate hPSC-derived cell therapies.  Over the past decade protocols to a broad repertoire of hPSC-derived cell fates have been identified and published differentiating pluripotent stem cells to generate cells more capable of recapitulating phenotypes seen in primary cells.  Although, commercial uses for these cells are quite similar to academics on the day-to-day, there are stark differences in how industry plans to use pluripotent tissue.  Seen through the lens of industry, approaches to high throughput screening, how one employs disease modeling, and the overall need for greater scale and reproducibility become greater priorities.

    Worldwide hPSC-derived cells are being evaluated in clinical trials, and with great enthusiasm within the United States several industry and academic efforts are underway to determine if a cure can be found.  These endeavors further underscore the importance of keeping the technical limitations of hPSCs and their derivatives in mind.  Numerous hurdles still remain before cells can make it to the clinic.  Cells will have to be thoroughly vetted for safety, engineering solutions need to be identified for large-scale production, and protocols require adaptation to adhere to good manufacturing practices.  Even then, limitations remain as to appropriate disease indications for cellular therapies.

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