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Modeling Progressive Fibrosis with Pluripotent Stem Cells Identifies an Anti-fibrotic Small Molecule


Progressive organ fibrosis accounts for one-third of all deaths worldwide, yet preclinical models that mimic the complex, progressive nature of the disease are lacking, and hence, there are no curative therapies. Progressive fibrosis across organs shares common cellular and molecular pathways involving chronic injury, inflammation, and aberrant repair resulting in deposition of extracellular matrix, organ remodeling, and ultimately organ failure. We describe the generation and characterization of an in vitro progressive fibrosis model that uses cell types derived from induced pluripotent stem cells. Our model produces endogenous activated transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) and contains activated fibroblastic aggregates that progressively increase in size and stiffness with activation of known fibrotic molecular and cellular changes. We used this model as a phenotypic drug discovery platform for modulators of fibrosis. We validated this platform by identifying a compound that promotes resolution of fibrosis in in vivo and ex vivo models of ocular and lung fibrosis.

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