Differentiated Cell Lines
At the end of the iPSC value chain are healthy or disease-based cell lines that have been differentiated for specific applications. Cellular Dynamics International (CDI), the first player to enter this part of the value chain, currently produces cardiomyocytes for pharmaceutical cardiotoxicity testing. Human cardiomyocytes have been proven to be a more accurate model for testing than the traditional animal models, as they increase the screening efficiency in the drug-development process.
This benefit is getting the attention of major pharmaceutical companies like Roche, which recently signed an agreement with CDI to use its iPSC-derived cell lines, and Pfizer, which is developing its own toxicity testing system. Axiogenesis, a German company, is also developing a cardiomyocyte line that will be distributed through Lonza.
The use of disease-based, differentiated cell lines has not yet hit the commercial market, but products are in development. iPieran, a biopharmaceutical company, is developing cell lines from iPSCs for difficult-to-model diseases like Parkinson disease, spinal muscular atrophy, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. These lines will be used for internal drug discovery, while additional lines for cardiovascular and metabolic disease will be made with other pharmaceutical industry partners. As the iPS cells are validated against the current drug discovery models, we expect to see their use increase in major pharma company drug discovery processes.