Induced pluripotent stem cells-based disease modeling, drug screening, clinical trials, and reverse translational research for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

It has been more than 10 years since the hopes for disease modeling and drug discovery using induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology boomed. Recently, clinical trials have been conducted with drugs identified using this technology, and some promising results have been reported. For amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a devastating neurodegenerative disease, several groups have identified candidate drugs, ezogabine (retigabine), bosutinib, and ropinirole, using iPSCs-based drug discovery, and clinical trials using these drugs have been conducted, yielding interesting results. In our previous study, an iPSCs-based drug repurposing approach was utilized to show the potential of ropinirole hydrochloride (ROPI) in reducing ALS-specific pathological phenotypes. Recently, a phase 1/2a trial was conducted to investigate the effects of ropinirole on ALS further. This double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study confirmed the safety and tolerability of and provided evidence of its ability to delay disease progression and prolong the time to respiratory failure in ALS patients. Furthermore, in the reverse translational research, in vitro characterization of patient-derived iPSCs-motor neurons (MNs) mimicked the therapeutic effects of ROPI in vivo, suggesting the potential application of this technology to the precision medicine of ALS. Interestingly, RNA-seq data showed that ROPI treatment suppressed the sterol regulatory element-binding protein 2-dependent cholesterol biosynthesis pathway. Therefore, this pathway may be involved in the therapeutic effect of ROPI on ALS. The possibility that this pathway may be involved in the therapeutic effect of ALS was demonstrated. Finally, new future strategies for ALS using iPSCs technology will be discussed in this paper.


Authors: Okano H, Morimoto S, Kato C, Nakahara J, Takahashi S

Journal: Journal of Neurochemistry, 2023; 167(5): 603–614.