Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells respond differently to drugs according to the specific type of Parkinsonís disease (PD) a person has. This, according to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) paper that studied iPS cells generated from people across varying genetically inherited forms of Parkinsonís. Itís information that could be critical to developing new treatments for PD.
iPS cells are adult human-derived cells that, like embryonic stem cells, scientists can engineer into any of the major cell types in the body. As we reported last month in our feature ďThe Hidden Lives of iPS Cells,Ē iPS cells like those implemented in the NIH study are currently being used to create models that allow researchers to study and validate mechanisms underlying PD. The hope is that such models will also help researchers to better screen drug candidates against such mechanisms, toward the end goal of bringing candidates that prove to be successful to market, faster.
Down the road, thereís also the possibility that iPS cell science could help researchers develop personalized treatments for groupsí or even individualsí unique experiences with PD. Most imminently, suggests Margaret Sutherland, PhD, a program director at NINDS, new opportunities for clinical trials using iPS technology may emerge to identify those patients who are most likely to respond to particular therapies. iPS cells might also allow researchers to conduct proof of concept trials to better understand the effectiveness of a treatment in PD populations or sub-populations before even going to the clinic, potentially saving time and money.
The NIH findings come from an iPS Cell Consortium that is also sponsored by The Michael J. Fox Foundation. The Consortium is working to generate many iPS cell lines from PD patients and make them widely available to researchers worldwide.