As drug discovery continues to progress and adapt to modern day scientific challenges, the scope of pharmaceutical development becomes increasingly more comprehensive. Like Visikol, many research organizations are making the shift from animal models to 3D cell culture models. This poses a newfound industry need for the development of said models, especially those that are representative of complex structures – such as the blood brain barrier (BBB).

Due to specific structural and biochemical properties of the BBB, most small and large molecule drugs cannot cross over into the central nervous system (CNS) – therefore, there is significant motivation to develop a scalable and clinically relevant model for use in drug discovery.

Visikol has expanded its portfolio of 3D cell culture models with the inclusion of a BBB model. The development of this model is extremely beneficial to identifying treatments for major brain disorders – such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), brain tumors, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), etc. Through the use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), Visikol is working to mimic the intrinsic resistance of the BBB. The iPSCs will simulate the tightly linked endothelial cell barrier bolstered by pericytes that is characteristic of the BBB. While primary cell lines were traditionally used to study the BBB due to high TEER values (a measure of epithelial cell barrier integrity and permeability), they are often difficult to obtain and cell viability can often be lower than desired. Stem cells offer a promising alternative due to their capacity to differentiate into brain endothelial cells and potential for patient specificity. However, just like in all aspects of science, there are limitations to every research route – and in the case of iPSCs, the narrow experimental window under in vivo conditions presents a considerable limitation to be considered.

Regardless of the cell source, an urgent need remains for an effective BBB model to study pharmacological solutions to brain disorders. Alzheimer’s affects 50% of people over 85, and an estimated 1.5 million Americans sustain a TBI every year – each with no defined pharmacological treatment options. As a leader in drug discovery, Visikol will continue to advance its R&D efforts  to further the development of these treatments. Please reach out with any questions or inquiries today!


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