Geron reports that it has developed standardized hepatocytes from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) that can model human hepatic drug metabolism.
"Geron's hESC-derived hepatocyte technology presents a unique opportunity to address the lack of primary human hepatocytes for in vitro testing during drug discovery," points out Thomas B. Okarma, Ph.D., M.D., Geron's president and CEO. "Pharmaceutical companies currently rely on animal models for preclinical metabolism and toxicity testing that are often not predictive for humans.
“These new studies provide the proof of principle that we could produce a standardized, limitless supply of hepatocytes, which would provide the industry with a more representative tool for toxicology and metabolism testing of new drugs in development."
Published in Cloning and Stem Cells, a paper written by Geron's scientific collaborators at the Roslin Institute describes an improved procedure to differentiate hepatocytes that exhibit characteristic morphology and express several markers, including albumin and HepPar1. The hESC-derived hepatocytes also possess functional activities, including p450 metabolism, albumin production, glycogen storage, and uptake and excretion of indocyanine green, that are characteristic of normal human liver function, according to the researchers.