Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Like Top Grapes for Fine Wine, CIRM Advancing Quality Stem Cell Collection For Disease Research

photo courtesy Fir0002/Flagstaffotos
If you are a winemaker you want to have easy access to top quality grapes. If you are a chef you want to be able to get top-notch produce every day. And if you are a stem cell researcher you want to be able to work with high quality stem cell lines that are appropriate for the disease you are focusing on. But while the winemaker and chef know exactly where to get their materials, it’s not always so easy for researchers. Until now.

At the March 19th meeting of our governing board, the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC), we approved 9 different applications to set up a stem cell bank that will give all our researchers - and of course other non CIRM-funded researchers too – ready access to high quality stem cell lines.

Why nine different groups? Well, setting up a stem cell bank is a very complex procedure that involves an array of different elements and skills. Seven of those involved – ranging from researchers at Stanford to UCLA and UC San Diego - will gather tissue samples from around 3,000 individuals. Many of those samples will be from individuals who have diseases like Alzheimer’s or heart disease to enable researchers to be able to study them. Ultimately we will turn those 3,000 samples into some 9,000 cell lines representing 11 diseases.

The other two winning applicants, Cellular Dynamics International and Coriell Institute for Medical Research, will be responsible for the storage, distribution and quality control of those cell lines. Both companies are from outside California but opened up offices in the state specifically to apply for this award – another example of how we are attracting new businesses here. And they’ll be based out of another CIRM-funded facility, at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato.

You can read more about this in a news release we sent out but the bottom line is that when it comes to getting access to the tools they need to do their work, our researchers can bank on us.

K.M.

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