Roche launches new project to speed up stem cell development

Hannah Blake

pharmaphorum

A new project aimed at speeding up the development of new medicines has been initiated by ten international drug companies and scientists from 11 European countries.

StemBANCC aims to use human-induced pluripotent stem cells as research tools for drug discovery with the goal of using this ground-breaking new technology to develop human disease models and enhance drug development. The project has been coordinated by Roche and the Innovative Medicines Initiative and will be managed by scientists at Oxford University.

“The aim of StemBANCC is to generate and characterise 1,500 high quality human induced pluripotent stem cell lines derived from 500 patients that can be used by researchers to study a range of diseases, including diabetes and dementia. The cell lines will help implement patient models that will facilitate the drug development process thanks to the possibility of reproducing the disease mechanism in vitro.”

Martin Graf, Head of the Stem Cell Platform and coordinator of the project at Roche.

The StemBANCC project will focus on peripheral nervous system disorders (especially pain), central nervous system disorders (dementias), neurodysfunctional diseases (migraine, autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder), and diabetes. The project will also investigate the use of human induced pluripotent stem cells for identifying drug targets and biomarkers, screening potential drug treatments, and toxicology testing.

Roche scientists recognised the potential of induced pluripotent stem cells over three years ago. Since then, the company has worked with partners at Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital to create over 100 human induced pluripotent stem cell lines that can be used to model cardiovascular and neurological diseases.

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Related news:

European stem cell bank aims to speed drug development (Reuters)

Roche, Pfizer, Sanofi Plan $72.7 Million Stem-Cell Bank (Bloomberg)

Reference links:

Roche official press release

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