Sigma-Aldrich Corporation recently announced it has established an agreement with XCell Science to launch genetically engineered human neural differentiated cells and the corresponding culture media to advance research in the neurological diseases field. Together with the product portfolio of Sigma-Aldrich, these new products offer unique tools relevant for the study of disorders that affect the central nervous system like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and also for drug screening and toxicology applications.
The available assortment of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC)-derived neural cells comprises neurons and astrocytes in which the APOE gene (apolipoprotein E; a gene suggested to be involved with neurological disorders) is depleted, reporter lines of two neuronal cell marker genes MAP2 (microtubule-associated protein 2) and GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein), and a panel to test neural protective drug candidates and assess their toxicity. All cell lines were validated and their ability to differentiate into neural cells was confirmed.
“The genetically engineered iPSC-derived neural lines provide researchers with disease models that can significantly contribute to deciphering the mechanism underlying the disease,” said the Vice President of Technology & Business Development at Sigma-Aldrich Shaf Yousaf in the news release. “These new lines provide more consistent disease models than currently available for assessment of compound toxicity and efficacy, which can expedite drug development and considerably reduce cost.”
“XCell Science is confident this arrangement will benefit the stem cell community by leveraging XCell’s expertise with neural differentiated cells and Sigma-Aldrich’s global reach and reputation. Our customers will be able to fully take advantage of the consistency and reproducibility these cell models provide, along with the ease of use enabled by engineered iPSC-differentiated cells,” said XCell’s founder and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Xianmin Zeng.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease, characterized by the gradual degeneration and atrophy of motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord that are responsible for controlling essential voluntary muscles, such as the ones related to movement, speaking, eating, and even breathing. ALS patients may become totally paralyzed and the majority dies due to respiratory failure within two to five years after diagnosis. The ALS Association estimates that more than 300,000 Americans suffer from this disease for which there is currently no cure.
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