05SEPT2023 Minneapolis, MN. Anatomic Incorporated, the world leader in directed differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into neurons, has been granted a foundational US patent for neural differentiation using BMP/ERK inhibition. In 2015, as researchers at the University of Minnesota, Anatomic co-founders discovered something surprising. By inhibiting only two signaling pathways, bone morphogenic protein (BMP) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), they found that human pluripotent stem cells could be transformed into ectoderm in as little as 24 hours. This was surprising, as it had previously been shown that ectoderm required at least 7 days of differentiation using a commonly-used method called "Dual SMAD inhibition", which involved the antagonism of BMP and Activin pathways.
Manufacturing ectoderm is only the beginning, however, as this population requires additional differentiation to become a useful cell type found in a functioning human. The inventors went on to show that this rapid "neural induction" as it's called, is followed by rapid neural "patterning", which generates the neurodiversity of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system. In as little as 3 to 5 days, human pluripotent stem cells could be both induced and patterned to specific neural progenitors that can go on to make specific subclasses of neurons found in the body.
Anatomic has leveraged this intellectual property to develop its market-leading RealDRG peripheral nociceptors useful for pain drug discovery. Anatomic has further built upon its invention to develop directed differentiation protocols for both melanocytes and motor neurons, demonstrating that inhibited-BMP/ERK-based differentiation is a true platform technology for neurobiology. Due to the advantages of BMP/ERK-based differentiation, the differentiation protocols to produce these three cell types require only seven days in vitro, which can be months shorter than methods currently in use. Due to the precision timing of these protocols, differentiation can achieve greater than 80% efficiency, which is a measure of the on-target purity of the final cellular composition.
Anatomic plans to further leverage this platform to bring to market additional neuronal subtypes of the central and peripheral nervous system. States Anatomic CEO Patrick Walsh, "This is truly a remarkable technology. Anatomic discovered first the BMP/ERK neural inductive methodology and was rewarded a US patent as a result. This gives Anatomic a legal monopoly all such use-case scenarios involving the use of BMP/ERK inhibition in the production of ectoderm from pluripotent stem cells, patterning of these resulting cells, and eventual downstream manufacture and sale of neurons and related cells."