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Professor Robert Halliwell

Professor, Physiology and Pharmacology, Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

In October, Professor Robert Halliwell attended Global Technology Community's 5th Advances in Stem Cell Discovery and Development conference where he presented "Assessing the Validity of Neurons Derived from Human Stem Cells for Drug Discovery & Neurotoxicology Studies".  His study showed that human stem cells may be powerful new tools to test the safety of new drugs on the developing nervous system without the need to use animals.  

Halliwell also attended the 's Second Annual Stem Cells in Drug Discovery and Development Conference on November 2, 2011 where he presented "Electrophysiological Studies of Ion Channels Expressed in Neurons Derived from Human Stem Cells".  The conference aimed to explore how pharma are incorporating stem cells into their drug discovery/development efforts and the value of stem cell models in compound screening, toxicity assessment, disease modeling, and new target discovery. 

Halliwell's presentations followed his lab's September 2011 publication in a special issue of the journal Neurochemistry International, which is devoted to the potential of stem cells for 21st century neuroscience.     

Neurons derived from human stem cells represent a powerful tool in drug discovery yet there is little data on their properties.The new data from Halliwell's group shows that these stem cell-derived nerve cells express a range of drug receptors with a pharmacology consistent with that of native human neurons. This study therefore shows that nerve cells derived from human adult stem cells have properties that may make them very useful in future studies to find new drugs for neurological disorders.