Using human heart cells generated from adult stem cells, researchers have developed an index that may be used to determine how toxic a group of cancer drugs, called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), are to human cells. While 26 TKIs are currently used to treat a variety of cancers, some can severely damage patients’ hearts, causing problems such as an irregular heartbeat or heart failure.
For the study, reported February 15 in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers used stem cell-derived heart cells from 13 volunteers to develop a “cardiac safety index” that measures the extent to which TKIs kill or alter the function of heart cells. They found that the TKIs’ toxicity score on the index was generally consistent with what is known about each drug’s heart-related side effects.
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