Diagnosed by the German psychiatrist and neuropathologist, Dr. Alois Alzheimer in 1906, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most prevalent form of dementia in the ageing population (Korolev et al., 2014). Recently declared as the sixth major cause of death in the world; patients affected with AD suffer a gradual decline of cognitive abilities and memory functions till the disease renders them incapable of performing daily activities. Some of these traits, which are typical of neurodegenerative diseases are also shared by other forms of dementia.
The brain is the most complex organ in the body, controlling our highest functions, as well as regulating myriad processes which incorporate the entire physiological system. There is a significant risk that a novel therapeutic agent might impact brain structure and function, resulting in serious pathologies and even death. Therefore, CNS testing forms part of the 'core battery' of safety pharmacology studies .
Millions of people around the world suffer from debilitating pain. However, with impressive advances being made in pain research and drug discovery efforts, researchers are continuing to delve deeper into the molecular pathways underpinning pain, to ultimately improve both the screening of drug candidates and the quality of life for people across the world.
Innovations in biotechnology and advances in stem cell biology are currently revolutionizing biomedical research and drug discovery. One exciting breakthrough has been the ability to produce sensory neurons from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and culture them in vitro on multi-electrode array (MEA) systems, to advance pain research and the discovery of effective pain therapies.
Millions of people around the world suffer from debilitating pain, causing immense suffering and reducing their quality of life. With the economic costs of chronic pain estimated to be up to $635 billion each year in the US alone , it’s crucial for scientists to be able to fully understand the functionality of human sensory neurons and how they respond to potential new drugs. In the race to find effective treatments, scientists commonly study in vitro neuron cultures to characterize the molecular pathways underlying pain, which can help to identify therapeutic targets and quickly screen potential drug candidates.