YOKOHAMA, Japan, January 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- ReproCELL, Inc. (CEO: Chikafumi Yokoyama PhD) announces today that the company will enter a collaborative R&D agreement with the National Institute of Biomedical Innovation (NIBIO; Director General: Koichi Yamanishi; Osaka, Japan), which could offer new hepatocyte derived from human iPS (induced pluripotent stem) cells used for an effective in-vitro drug screening for hepatic toxicity and liver metabolism.

ReproCELL is a world-leading pioneer in commercializing human pluripotent stem cells as an effective tool for drug discovery and development. The company has successfully launched iPS cell derived cardiomyocytes in April 2009 for cardiac toxicity testing, followed by the launch of iPS cell derived neuronal cells in October 2010 for efficacy screening of neuroactive compounds. The prospective new offering of hepatocytes will address an area of highest demand worldwide, and will be the third line of products and services to be introduced by the company.

Under the agreement, ReproCELL will utilize a technology developed by NIBIO that uses an improved adenovirus vector to induce the differentiation of human iPS cells into matured hepatocytes with high efficiency. Together with NIBIO, the company will aim to bring the products to the market swiftly within the next one and half years.

ReproCELL's Representative Director and CEO, Chikafumi Yokoyama PhD commented, "iPS cell-derived hepatocytes made using this method show the highest level of quality ever seen, expressing the same qualities as that of primary human hepatocytes currently used by the pharmaceutical industry, including drug metabolizing enzyme activity. We can expect to see its early adoption for drug toxicity and pharmacokinetic studies."

Aspects of NIBIO's technology on the induction of iPS cell-derived hepatocyte differentiation can be found in the following publication:

"Efficient Generation of Hepatoblasts From Human ES Cells and iPS Cells by Transient Overexpression of Homeobox Gene HEX." Inamura M, Kawabata K, Takayama K, Tashiro K, Sakurai F, Katayama K, Toyoda M, Akutsu H, Miyagawa Y, Okita H, Kiyokawa N, Umezawa A, Hayakawa T, Furue MK, Mizuguchi H. Mol Ther. 2010 Nov 23. [Epub ahead of print], PMID: 21102561

Representative: Chikafumi Yokoyama PhD, Representative Director and CEO

Contact: , +81-(0)45-475-3887