The Niche

Al Gore, Shinya Yamanka, Genentech’s VCs, and induced pluripotency

iZumi Biotech has just announced a dream team, but they aren’t saying much about what exact game they’ll be playing with induced pluripotent stem cells. Here is the article in USA Today , announcing a deal with Kyoto University’s Shinya Yamanaka, who figured out how to transform specialized cells to an embryonic-like state. iZumi already has an agreement with the Gladstone Institute in San Francisco, where Yamanaka has a joint appointment.

iZumi will be pursuing iPS cells not for cell therapy but for drug screening. For this application, iPS cells promise all the benefits of ES cells, plus more, because such cells can be readily generated from the cells of patients with a known medical history, and a trackable medical future. The idea is that researchers can take skin cells from people with, say, heart disease, convert them into iPS cells, convert the iPS cells into cardiomyocytes, and then test drugs on cardiomyocytes. This should, in principle, work for just about any disease. iZumi is certainly not the only company in this space.

Related articles

iPS cell technology gains momentum in drug discovery (requires access to Nature Reviews Drug Discovery)

Reprogrammed skin cells provide testing ground for new drugs (requires access to Nature News)

New tools for drug discovery (Though this discusses human embryonic stem cells, most of the players and the problems are the same.)

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