Marker analysis for optimising stem cell differentiation
A major healthcare problem is that few drugs work for all patients, often due to differences in their genetic backgrounds. Animal models commonly used for drug testing do not always capture human-specific traits, let alone differences between patients. Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) hold promise for personalised medicine since they contain the genomes of the individuals from whom they are derived. hiPSCs can be directed (‘differentiated’) to form all cells of the human body including heart and blood vessels. However, differentiation is variable between hiPSCs from different patients.
CARMEN will develop imaging based approaches to identify individual steps during differentiation using previously developed reporter lines that indicate distinct cardiovascular developmental stages through fluorescent markers. Combined, they will enable identification of key differentiation stages. Continuous monitoring and cell-type identification will also allow better understanding of developmental pathways and facilitate more efficient cardiovascular modelling at acceptable cost for financially-pressured healthcare whilst also eliminating or reducing animal testing through better methods.