People differ from each other in many ways, including genetics. This is one reason why a drug might work really well in one person but give unwanted side effects in another person. Also, people are quite different from mice, the most common laboratory animal. So, wouldn’t it be cool if we could test new drugs on our own human cells, rather than on animals?

In my research I use special stem cells, called iPS cells, that can be created from your own cells in the laboratory for example by collecting cells from the blood or the urine. These iPS cells have the potential to become every cell of your body. However, this process is quite challenging. Therefore I am working on developing improved methods to turn iPS cells into more specialized cells, like kidney cells or liver cells. Then we can use these cells to test new drugs on human cells, or even your own cells, to see how you, or people with similar genetics will respond to a drug.

VU Amsterdam

Every person has his or her own unique DNA. As a result, medicines sometimes work differently in one person or the other. Anja Wilmes is investigating possibilities to make medicines more personal, so that they better match the DNA of your body.

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