Liver Stem Cells Could be the Key to Faster Drug Developments

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stemcells2Costing up to $2 billion dollars and averaging at over 12 years, the process of bringing a new medication to the US is a difficult one. The path becomes all the more tumultuous when you factor in the fact that even after an initial investment of time, money and resources, most new drugs don’t make it all the way through the process. But scientists from Princeton’s Bristol-Meyers Squibb and the University of Edinburgh’s Center for Regenerative Medicine are working on a project that might just make the path from idea to drug a whole lot smoother.

Liver toxicity is one of the most common causes of drug failures. And safety testing often comes to a crawl – if not a complete standstill – when it comes to finding enough human liver cells (hepatocytes) from a variety of genetic backgrounds. That’s where the team of scientists working at the Center for Regenerative Medicine comes in.

Working from the liver cells of deceased donors, scientists and physicians have been able to create active stem cells that could be stabilized for two weeks or longer. This breakthrough in hepatocyte stem cell research is an important one for the future of drug safety testing.

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