Pediatric pulmonology

Personalized medicine for cystic fibrosis: establishing human model systems.

PMID 26335952


With over 1,500 identifiable mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene that result in distinct functional and phenotypical abnormalities, it is virtually impossible to perform randomized clinical trials to identify the best therapeutics for all patients. Therefore, a personalized medicine approach is essential. The only way to realistically accomplish this is through the development of improved in vitro human model systems. The lack of a readily available and infinite supply of human CFTR-expressing airway epithelial cells is a key bottleneck. We propose that a concerted two-pronged approach is necessary for patient-specific cystic fibrosis research to continue to prosper and realize its potential: (1) more effective culture and differentiation conditions for growing primary human airway and nasal epithelial cells and (2) the development of collective protocols for efficiently differentiating disease- and patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) into pure populations of adult epithelial cells. Ultimately, we need a personalized human model system for cystic fibrosis with the capacity for uncomplicated bankability, widespread availability, and universal applicability for patient-specific disease modeling, novel pharmacotherapy investigation and screening, and readily executable genetic modification.