Journal Article

Endless Possibilities: Stem Cells and the Vision for Toxicology Testing in the 21st Century

Robert E. Chapin and Donald B. Stedman

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 112, issue 1, pages 17-22
Published in print November 2009 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online August 2009 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI:
Endless Possibilities: Stem Cells and the Vision for Toxicology Testing in the 21st Century

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The National Research Council's (NRC) toxicity testing vision lays out a bold future for our field. It depends heavily on computational algorithms based on the latest knowledge of cellular biochemistry and protein interaction pathways, exposing human cells to novel compounds in vitro, and being able to understand the changes seen. At the same time, significant strides are being made in our understanding of the control, production, and “behavior” of stem cells. While stem cells offer seemingly limitless possibilities for regenerative medicine, they have already delivered new assays to predict embryo-fetal developmental toxicity in vitro. In addition to providing a model of cells undergoing differentiation and proliferation, stem cells will play a major role by giving rise to many of the differentiated cell types on which this new vision depends. These will not be pure populations of single cell types but mixtures of cells much more representative of tissues in vitro. Moving from cells alone in a culture dish toward the more physiological condition of multiple cell types being able to interact to maintain homeostasis in the face of a disequilibrating force (like a toxic exposure) will lead us toward more useful and correct predictions of in vivo toxicities. Despite the seemingly insurmountable hurdles, persistence and creativity are on our side. We expect that a long series of successive iterations of predictive models will eventually yield a working process that approximates the NRC's vision and delivers on the promise of faster evaluation of chemicals with reduced animal use.

Keywords: embryonic stem cells; induced pluripotent stem cells; predictive toxicology; toxicity testing

Journal Article.  3865 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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