Human pluripotential stem cells including both embryonic stem cells (hESC) and induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) possess self-renewing potency and pluripotentency and can differentiate into virtually any somatic cell type. These features are a distinct advantage for the generation of specific types of human tissue cells in vitro for continuous use in drug development. Recently, an assay system for drug-induced QT interval prolongation using hESC/hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes and microelectrode arrays (MEA) has been developed. Drug-induced QT interval prolongation (DIQTIP) can lead to sudden cardiac death and is a major safety concern for the drug industry. Regulatory authorities such as the US FDA and the European Medicines Agency require in-vitro testing of all drug candidates to identify potential risk of DIQTIP prior to clinical trials. To reduce the risk of DIQTIP, a routine assay system for in vitro electrophysiological properties using cell-based assays is effective and necessary in early phase of drug discovery. This review discusses developments over the last couple of years for a qualified drug testing method and provides some examples of how hESC/hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes are beginning to find a practical use for drug discovery and development.
Keywords: Stem cells, differentiation, cardiomyocytes, electrophysiology, drug test
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