Heart muscle cells derived from individual patients' stem cells could be used to test the safety of a drug before it's administered — a boon for precision medicine.

Elena Matsa and Joseph Wu of Stanford University in California and their colleagues made heart muscle cells from induced pluripotent stem cells derived from seven people. They then exposed the muscle cells to one of two drugs that have been linked to heart problems in some people: rosiglitazone and tacrolimus. The results showed differences in how the cells responded to the drugs: one cell line, for example, showed signs of increased stress after treatment that were not observed in cells from other patients.

The approach could one day be used to tailor treatment regimens to individuals and to test drug candidates for potential toxicity before they enter clinical trials.

Cell Stem Cell http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.stem.2016.07.006 (2016)