19 Sep Nation's only stem cell bank will receive UC-San Francisco cell line
Madison, Wis. – The Madison-based National Stem Cell Bank has announced it will receive human embryonic stem cells from the University of California-San Francisco, giving it 13 of the 21 stem cell lines available on the federal registry.
Beth Donley, executive director of the WiCell Research Institute, which houses the stem cell bank, said the organization is optimistic that it eventually will have all 21 federally approved lines.
“We’re very excited because we’re well past the halfway point in getting all 21 presidentially approved stem cell lines,” she said.
The stem cell bank was established as the nation’s first – and so far only – national stem cell bank by the National Institutes of Health. The purpose of the bank is to obtain, characterize, and distribute the 21 human embryonic stem cell lines approved for federally funded research.
WiCell scientists are characterizing the cells to support their development for research and therapeutic applications. Scientists believe that human embryonic stem cells, which can become virtually any cell in the human body, can help them find cures and treatments for debilitating diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cancer.
The owners of NIH-registry stem cell lines worldwide have been invited to deposit their cells at the National Stem Cell Bank. Donley said WiCell has been negotiating with three entities that possess most of the remaining stem cell lines – Cellartis AB in Goteborg, Sweden, ES Cell International in Singapore, and Novocell of San Diego, Calif.
Donley said WiCell is working with them to understand their culture techniques and, in the case of Novocell, to discuss an interest in a commercial license. Eventually, Donley said WiCell hopes to culture cells using the original techniques or a standardized technique now being developed.
The remaining stem cell lines are held by Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, which like most of Israel has been preoccupied with national security concerns.
Stem cell diversity
The addition of the UCSF lines broadens the diversity of lines available for research, and enables researchers at WiCell to conduct comparative studies on the lines. As part of their work, they attempt to understand how each cell line behaves under varying lab conditions, and assess their potential to become a specific tissue in the body. Information gleaned from the comparative studies is shared with researchers that are working with stem cells.
The goal is to meet the requests of scientists that request cells that are “predisposed to becoming a specific kind of tissue, such as a heart cell,” Donley said.
WiCell also provides training to researchers in the care and handling of human embryonic stem cells, and technical support to scientists that are conducting research with stem cells.
The owners of stem cell lines are compensated when they deposit stem cell lines at the National Stem Cell Bank, but mainly for the costs associated with maintaining and storing them prior to the deposit.
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