While we are used to hearing about exciting new breakthroughs involving the use of stem cells to regenerate damaged tissue, some scientists think the really exciting thing about stem cells is their ability to revolutionise the process of discovering and testing new drugs.
A new project will look at how stem cells can used in developing new treatments for complex conditions like Alzheimer’s, autism and schizophrenia.
A €50m Europe-wide consortium of universities and pharmaceutical companies will use induced stem cells from patients to generate different tissue types against which drug compounds can be screened.
Testing drug candidates from the start in cells from patients will be much more relevant for coming up with effective treatments, and of course there may also be benefits in reducing the numbers of animals used in research.
Dr Zameel Cader, University of Oxford
Dr Martin Graf, Head of Stem Cell Platform, Roche
Dr Sally Cowley, Oxford Stem Cell Institute, University of Oxford