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Cellular Dynamics to Collaborate with Hamner on Toxicity Screening Assays

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Stem cell technology developer Cellular Dynamics International said today it has inked a collaborative agreement with the Hamner Institute to develop predictive in vitro screening assays to be used in toxicity testing and risk assessment.

The Research Triangle Park, NC-based firm said the human induced pluripotent stem cell assays will enable chemical, environmental, and pharmaceutical toxicology assessments without the use of animal models.

Under the agreement, CDI will provide its iCell Hepatocytes to the Hamner Institute to support the institute's Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: Toxicity Pathways and Network Biology program.

The Hamner's toxicity pathway research program is a multi-partner initiative involving sponsors such as Agilent Technologies; Illumina; Dow Chemical; Dow Corning; Unilever; ExxonMobil; and CropLife America, among others. CDI will join this group and will collaborate with Hamner investigators on technical aspects of assay development, CDI said.

In this initiative, Hamner researchers are using several prototypical toxicity pathway case studies to develop human cell-based assays to map and model signaling pathways for evaluating response to dosages. When these assays are validated with prototype chemicals they should enable toxicity testing and risk assessments using only in vitro test results. Such testing schemes will accelerate testing of compounds already in use and those that are still in development, and enable investigators to assess drug safety early in the development process.

"We are particularly enthusiastic about the use of iCell Hepatocytes to create models of liver toxicity and for evaluating pathways of metabolism," Melvin Anderson, project director at Hamner, said in a statement. "More broadly, stem cell products enhance work on the whole suite of pathways of interest to our diverse partners. As other stem cell platforms develop, we can connect them sequentially and examine multi-day treatment for many tissues with realistic exposures."