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PHAGO partner looks to patent new culturing technique for deriving microglia from stem cells

An SME partner in the IMI PHAGO project has filed a patent application with the European Patent Office for an improved protocol for generating high numbers of human microglia, implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

30 April 2020
Human microglia. Image courtesy of Life and Brain
Human microglia. Image courtesy of Life and Brain

Microglia are thought to play an important role in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s. To understand more about their function, researchers in PHAGO looked at genetically distinct iPSCs generated from the blood of patients with Alzheimer’s, and microglia derived from them. This technique is technically challenging and cumbersome.

LIFE & BRAIN GmbH, who is co-leading the project’s work package on iPSC models, has now developed an improved method that involves new types of material, using patient cells collected by the team at King's College London. The new method enables bioreactor-based expansion and can yield very high numbers of iPSC-derived microglia.

This technique not only facilitates biomedical research; it might also offer new perspectives for a possible immunotherapeutic approach to treat patients with a genetic disposition to Alzheimer’s. In the PHAGO project, 40 iPSC lines have already been generated from donors that carry several different genetic mutations in the TREM2 or CD33 gene. PHAGO is working with the IMI initiative EBiSC (European Bank for Induced pluripotent Stem Cells) to make these cell lines accessible to researchers via the EBiSC catalogue.

PHAGO and EBISC are supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative, a partnership between the European Union and the European pharmaceutical industry.