Cellular Dynamics Announces Commercial Launch of iCell® Endothelial Cells for Vascular-Targeted Drug Discovery

MADISON, Wis., Sept. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Cellular Dynamics International (CDI) today announced the commercial launch of human iCell® Endothelial Cells for use in vascular-targeted drug discovery, tissue regeneration and other life science research.

Endothelial cells make up the lining of blood vessels and thus are an important factor of vascular research across a multitude of disease states.  Endothelial dysfunction is a common promoter of cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, inflammation, thrombosis, high blood pressure and more. In addition, endothelial cells separate circulating blood from the brain, an interface known as the blood-brain barrier (BBB). While vital for protecting the brain from bacterial infections, the BBB also presents a major challenge in the delivery of diagnostic and therapeutic agents to the brain.

Unfortunately, current cell models isolated from surgical by-products, cadaveric tissue and immortalized cell lines are not truly reflective of human biology. Additional growth factors are commonly added to cultures to overcome poor growth or attachment issues at the expense of altering endothelial cell function. In addition, these cell models are limited in quantity and exhibit batch-to-batch variability.

iCell Endothelial Cells are derived from human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, actively proliferate, are capable of arranging themselves into tubular formations and exhibit biochemical properties of normal human endothelial cells. Because they are human cells, they better recapitulate human biology and therefore are better predictors of drug candidate responses than current cell models.  CDI manufactures iCell Endothelial Cells in industrial quantities with more than 95% purity, which is ideal for vascular biology research, including revascularization of an organ for tissue regeneration.  

"CDI was able to provide us with the necessary endothelial cells to endothelialize our decellularized organ scaffolds.  The preliminary data look excellent," said Dr. Michael Abecassis, Founding Director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.  "We look forward to the continued use of these cells as we strive to develop tissue-engineered solutions to the severe organ shortage currently facing transplantation."

CDI has successfully engaged in pre-launch validation testing with pharmaceutical customers. The cells are useful in a variety of applications that are commonly used in vascular biology research: cell proliferation, cell invasion, and migration, cell adhesion, cell permeability, impedance/resistance and tubular formation.

"If one is interested in developing new therapeutics to treat diseases caused by human endothelial dysfunction, then the best cell model to use is human endothelial cells that recapitulate true biology," said Chris Parker, chief commercial officer of CDI.  "The problem our customers face today is that such cells have not been reproducible or available, and both academic and pharmaceutical researchers have had to make do with inferior models.  Since iCell Endothelial Cells are human and can be manufactured in high quantity, quality, and purity, we anticipate that our customers can make better decisions because their data will be based on better experimental models."

Endothelial cells are the second product CDI has now commercially launched, with neurons to follow later this year. CDI launched the first product ever developed from iPS cells, iCell Cardiomyocytes, in December 2009, just two years after human iPS cell technology was discovered in the University of Wisconsin-Madison laboratory of James Thomson, V.M.D., Ph.D. and Shinya Yamanaka (Kyoto University). Based on strong intellectual property and exclusively licensed patents from several universities, CDI has developed a proprietary process to industrialize the manufacture of virtually any cell in the human body. This capability is designed to aid drug discovery and improve the predictability of drug compound efficacy and toxicity screens early in the pharmaceutical pipeline process before significant time and resources have been invested.  

Robert Palay, chief executive officer of CDI, said, "Launching iCell Cardiomyocytes to the pharmaceutical industry in 2009 was an important step for Cellular Dynamics.  However, the launch of iCell Endothelial Cells shows we have built the infrastructure, expertise, and manufacturing pipeline to create virtually any cell type in the human body.  We look forward to launching many other iPS cell-derived iCell products."

About Cellular Dynamics International, Inc.

Cellular Dynamics International, Inc. (CDI) is a leading developer of next-generation stem cell technologies for drug development and personalized medicine applications.  CDI harnesses the power of pluripotent stem cells and their ability to differentiate into any cell type for world-class drug development tools.  In addition, it is the leader in iPSC technology, the production of pluripotent stem cell lines from adult tissue.  CDI was founded in 2004 by Dr. James Thomson, a pioneer in human pluripotent stem cell research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  CDI's facilities are located in Madison, Wisconsin. See www.cellulardynamics.com.

SOURCE Cellular Dynamics International



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