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Stem cells translational medicine

A Universal and Robust Integrated Platform for the Scalable Production of Human Cardiomyocytes From Pluripotent Stem Cells.


PMID 26511653

Abstract

Recent advances in the generation of cardiomyocytes (CMs) from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), in conjunction with the promising outcomes from preclinical and clinical studies, have raised new hopes for cardiac cell therapy. We report the development of a scalable, robust, and integrated differentiation platform for large-scale production of hPSC-CM aggregates in a stirred suspension bioreactor as a single-unit operation. Precise modulation of the differentiation process by small molecule activation of WNT signaling, followed by inactivation of transforming growth factor-β and WNT signaling and activation of sonic hedgehog signaling in hPSCs as size-controlled aggregates led to the generation of approximately 100% beating CM spheroids containing virtually pure (∼90%) CMs in 10 days. Moreover, the developed differentiation strategy was universal, as demonstrated by testing multiple hPSC lines (5 human embryonic stem cell and 4 human inducible PSC lines) without cell sorting or selection. The produced hPSC-CMs successfully expressed canonical lineage-specific markers and showed high functionality, as demonstrated by microelectrode array and electrophysiology tests. This robust and universal platform could become a valuable tool for the mass production of functional hPSC-CMs as a prerequisite for realizing their promising potential for therapeutic and industrial applications, including drug discovery and toxicity assays. Recent advances in the generation of cardiomyocytes (CMs) from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) and the development of novel cell therapy strategies using hPSC-CMs (e.g., cardiac patches) in conjunction with promising preclinical and clinical studies, have raised new hopes for patients with end-stage cardiovascular disease, which remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality globally. In this study, a simplified, scalable, robust, and integrated differentiation platform was developed to generate clinical grade hPSC-CMs as cell aggregates under chemically defined culture conditions. This approach resulted in approximately 100% beating CM spheroids with virtually pure (∼90%) functional cardiomyocytes in 10 days from multiple hPSC lines. This universal and robust bioprocessing platform can provide sufficient numbers of hPSC-CMs for companies developing regenerative medicine technologies to rescue, replace, and help repair damaged heart tissues and for pharmaceutical companies developing advanced biologics and drugs for regeneration of lost heart tissue using high-throughput technologies. It is believed that this technology can expedite clinical progress in these areas to achieve a meaningful impact on improving clinical outcomes, cost of care, and quality of life for those patients disabled and experiencing heart disease.