Aspen Neuroscience, Inc. Director of Bioinformatics, Roy Williams, Ph.D., presented NeuriTest™ for the first time publicly last week at the 2022 International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) Annual Meeting in San Francisco, Calif.
Dr. Williams’ podium presentation, “NeuriTest: A Bioinformatics-based Tool for Quality Control of iPSC-derived Dopamine Neuron Precursors for Transplantation,” featured the advanced bioinformatics-based predictive assay, which utilizes whole transcriptome RNA sequencing to identify ideal neuronal precursor cells at the optimal stage.
“NeuriTest is the final check point for making autologous cell replacement therapy a personalized medicine reality for people with Parkinson’s,” said Dr. Williams. “Consistency is key, and NeuriTest quickly and efficiently determines cell consistency, delivering a high confidence readout to our regenerative medicine developers, and also providing patients the best options of their own cells for transplant.”
Aspen is working to develop an autologous cell therapy, designed to replace lost dopamine neurons for people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Currently there is no disease-modifying treatment for PD, the second most common neurodegenerative disease affecting more than 10 million patients worldwide. One of the advantages of Aspen’s autologous approach is that it will not require immunosuppressive drugs.
NeuriTest, a highly intuitive 2-score system, utilizes the predictable changes during cell differentiation to characterize dopaminergic neuron precursors, and predicts the determined neural precursors with excellent sensitivity to almost 90% (89.2%, n=74) and specificity of more than 95% (95.9%, n=98). NeuriTest helps to make autologous cell therapy possible because it examines multiple biomarkers, a significant improvement over previous techniques.
Trained with patient cells to determine both cell viability and engraftment potential, NeuriTest is a companion diagnostic and predictive tool, originally developed by the research team at Dr. Jeanne Loring’s lab at the Scripps Research Institute, alongside PluriTest®, the industry “gold standard” in confirming pluripotency, also an important part of the iPSC-derived cell therapy development and manufacturing process. The Aspen team continues to add additional development features to both PluriTest and NeuriTest for its in-house therapeutic stem cell development programs.
The ISSCR annual meeting gathers the world’s leading scientists, clinicians, business leaders, ethicists and educators from more than 65 countries to commemorate 20 years of excellence, advances, and contributions of stem cell research and regenerative medicine.