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Addressing the scalability of human iPSC-derived neurons for HTS implementation and phenotypic screening

Speaker
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Lead ID, The Scripps Research Institute
    Biography
      Banu Priya Sridharan, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Scripps Research Institute Molecular Screening Center in the department of Molecular Medicine at Scripps in Florida. After a brief stint in MIT-Harvard HST as an undergraduate research assistant, she trained as a tissue engineer in Lawrence, Kansas where she obtained her Ph.D. in 2015. She moved to Medimmune to do a short-term industrial fellowship. She began at Scripps Florida in 2016 to advance her expertise on developing stem-cell based tissue models but now in the context of HTS. Dr. Sridharan pursued her passion for employing cellular models for phenotypic screening and is deeply involved in iPSC-based neuronal differentiation protocols, genome editing for disease modeling and relevant drug screening. Since 2011, she has published numerous peer reviewed articles and conference posters and podium talks and her key expertise includes stem cell differentiation, phenotypic assay development, high throughput screening and high content analysis.

    Abstract

    Traditional high throughput screening (HTS) assays for neuronal targets employ non-human primary neuronal cells due to the scale necessary for HTS. Isolation of mouse primary neurons can be unreliable and economically demanding. The discovery of new drugs for neuropsychiatric disorders has further been hampered by lack of access to disease-relevant human primary neurons and appropriate disease models. By using human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) technology, we can address some of the obstacles which affords the generation of human neurons through (1) embryoid body (EB) formation, (2) cultivation on stromal feeder cells, and, (3) employing lineage specific differentiation factors. Methods exist to reproducibly differentiate hiPSCs into functional cortical induced neurons (iN) in less than two weeks but, they have never been taken to the HTS scale and have been slow and somewhat variable. We have successfully recapitulated the aforementioned technique and leveraged the CRISPR technology to define the path to a plate-compatible format amenable for large-scale HTS implementation. The resulting iN cells exhibit appropriate genetic and fluorescent markers that give confidence of bonafide neuronal differentiation. Imminently, we intent to test the preliminary iN cells for their ability to post-mitotically increase or decrease neurite outgrowth following treatment with LOPAC test compounds via staining and high content analysis. Ultimately, we will determine reliability and reproducibility over time with industrial scale robotics. Furthermore, we also intend to leverage the CRISPR technology to create a library of disease-relevant-phenotypes from hiPSC-derived cellular models that will provide more opportunities for all biologists to study epigenetic mechanisms and scale-up screening initiatives with Scripps Research Institute Molecular Screening Center (SRIMSC).


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