Use of Human Neurons as Model Systems for Neurotoxin Countermeasures and Prophylaxes

M. Hendrickson, Z-.W. Du
BrainXell, Inc., Wisconsin, United States

Keywords: neurons, neurotoxicity, neurotoxins, brain, psychiatric

BrainXell's innovative human neuron culture platforms provide a means to model the human brain in a dish. These neurons, which are differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), provide a unique opportunity to experiment on the human nervous system without involvement of human subjects. We have developed technology to produce very large quantities of highly enriched neurons from normal or gene-edited iPSCs. Complimentary techniques also allow us to greatly accelerate their maturation such that many experiments can be conducted within one week of cell thawing and plating. These model systems can be used for a variety of purposes, with both civilian and military applications. Importantly, they can be used to assess the how well proposed countermeasures or prophylactic strategies can provide protection from chemical agents, especially neurotoxins. For example, in collaboration with the NIH, we have developed a system to screen chemical libraries for toxicity affecting acetylcholinesterase, which is the enzyme targeted by sarin and VX nerve agents. Please see the attached PDF for an example of the technology's use in drug screening for neurological and psychiatric disorders. Nearly identical approaches can be utilized to model neurotoxin exposure and determine the effectiveness of proposed countermeasures and prophylaxes.