One of the major obstacles to the identification of therapeutic interventions for central nervous system disorders has been the difficulty in studying the step-by-step progression of diseases in neuronal networks that are amenable to drug screening. Recent advances in the field of human pluripotent stem cell (PSC) biology offers the capability to create patient-specific human neurons with defined clinical profiles using reprogramming technology, which provides unprecedented opportunities for both the investigation of pathogenic mechanisms of brain disorders and the discovery of novel therapeutic strategies via drug screening. Many examples not only of the creation of human pluripotent stem cells as models of monogenic neurological disorders, but also of more challenging cases of complex multifactorial disorders now exist.
Here, the authors review the state-of-the art brain cell types obtainable from PSCs and amenable to compound-screening formats. they then provide examples illustrating how these models contribute to the definition of new molecular or functional targets for drug discovery and to the design of novel pharmacological approaches for rare genetic disorders, as well as frequent neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric disorders.
Alexandra Benchoua, Marie Lasbareilles & Johana Tournois.