Two UB centers create a new platform on neurotoxicology and drug testing based on stem cells

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The Production and Validation Center for Advanced Therapies (Creatio) and the Research Centre on Toxicology (CERETOX) through the Unit of Experimental Toxicology and Ecotoxicology (UTOX) from the Barcelona Science Park (PCB), entities of the University of Barcelona with the Tecnio seal, have created the platform Avantdrug. The new platform offers services to companies and research groups to carry out drug neurotoxicity tests and drug screenings in vitro using neurons taken from pluripotent stem cells (HPSC).

Avantdrug is the only platform with such features in Spain and the only one offering trials based on in vitro differenced human neuron systems with HPSC to determine phenotypic and physiological changes when being exposed to substance or products under study.

At the moment, drug neurotoxicology and new drug screening studies are carried out with models that present deficiencies when extrapolating the results in humans. Stem cell differentiating techniques have been tested more than 360 times with an efficiency over 86 %. Now, only four companies in Europe offer this service and only one of them is working with non-immortalized human cells.

“One of the main benefits of using stem cells is that results are more reliable, due their human origins”, says Josep Mª Canals, researcher in charge of Creatio and member of the Institute of Neurosciences of the UB (UBNeuro). “However, -he continues- the tests with human stem cells allow us stopping using animals to do so, as it is promoted by the European Union”.

Regarding the context of Avantdrug providing value, Àngel Menargues, head of UTOX-PCB/CERETOX, points out that “in vitro and in vivo security tests and the new regulation make the classic evaluation programs to have more tests and precise and reliable measures to properly quantify the neurotoxic effect of new drug candidates. This would guarantee their security and would make an optimal prediction of their effects in humans, therefore increasing the success of the clinical development. This new platform strengthens the services on neurotoxicology due the combination of our technologies and skills”.

The platform also offers the possibility to conduct tests on in vitro models of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson and Huntington, which have been developed by UB researchers, and in vitro and in vivo studies under laboratory best practice regulations.


Universitat de Barcelona


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