Sci Adv. 2020 Aug 7;6(32):eaaz1457. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz1457. eCollection 2020 Aug.
The emergence of several cell therapy candidates in the clinic is an encouraging sign for human diseases/disorders that currently have no effective treatment; however, scalable production of these cell therapies has become a bottleneck. To overcome this barrier, three-dimensional (3D) cell culture strategies have been considered for enhanced cell production. Here, we demonstrate a high-throughput 3D culture platform used to systematically screen 1200 culture conditions with varying doses, durations, dynamics, and combinations of signaling cues to derive oligodendrocyte progenitor cells and midbrain dopaminergic neurons from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). Statistical models of the robust dataset reveal previously unidentified patterns about cell competence to Wnt, retinoic acid, and sonic hedgehog signals, and their interactions, which may offer insights into the combinatorial roles these signals play in human central nervous system development. These insights can be harnessed to optimize production of hPSC-derived cell replacement therapies for a range of neurological indications.