NEURIX offers to by-pass limitations of current methods in R&D of the central nervous system.
Limitations of animal experimentation
- Animal models are relevant to perform behavioural and physiological tests but they are not adapted for screening and flexible mechanistic analysis.
- Most importantly, the examples of thalidomide or valproic acid have shown that interspecies differences between rodent and human material can have dramatic impacts that result in major side-effects in patients or even descendants.
- More recently, the rising interest in therapies involving human-targeted antibodies triggers high concerns as little/no neural side-effects are expected in non-humans.
Limitations of cell lines and primary cells
- Presently, immortalized cell lines represent the most broadly used model for high throughput compound screening because of their cost-effectiveness. However, as tumor cells, they show only very limited similarity with non-tumorigenic post-mitotic neurons.
- The limited number of primary cells that are extracted from brains of sacrificed animals can be used, even though species differences still apply.
From pluripotent stem cells to neural tissues
- Pluripotent stem cells allow the flexibility to make an unlimited quantity of neural cells.
- The protocol can also allow a focus on developmental tissue with neural material containing germinal layers.
- Moreover, the possibility to perform cell engineering on material from donors with specific disorders offers the opportunity to generate disease models.
Technology of NEURIX
- Competencies of NEURIX are based on a technology initiated at the renowned laboratory of Prof. Krause at the University and University Hospitals of Geneva, Switzerland.
- A combination of specific culture methods with an air-liquid interface system allows differentiation of pluripotent stem cells.
- The differentiated tissue presents more structural and phenotypic similarities with the early developing human fetal brain than previously described methods.
- Following additional development at the Krause laboratory and at the group of Prof. Stoppini (an international expert in tissue engineering at Engineering School of Geneva Hepia), the model can mature and offer a neural tissue with supporting glial cells and a selection of different types of neurons (e.g. dopaminergic, GABAergic, etc.).