Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Stem cell bank nearly completed: will store and distribute stem cell lines to researchers

One of our recent initiatives funded scientists to make, store and distribute stem cell lines to scientists worldwide. We admit that this doesn't sound like the sexiest of scientific projects, but it's actually a big deal for those scientists who need access to those lines for understanding diseases and finding therapies.

The San Francisco Business Times recently ran a good story about the future home of the stem cell bank located at the Buck Institute for Age Research. Scientists at the Buck Institute have CIRM awards to study Parkinson's disease, blindness and other diseases of aging. They also have a beautiful, well situated facility where they can house the lab co-run by Cellular Dynamics International and the Coriell Insitute for Medical Research. Those two have awards to create and store the cell lines, respectively.

The SF Business Times story is behind a paywall. In it they describe one benefit of creating this bank--smaller labs that don't have the expertise or funds to create their own disease-specific stem cell lines will now have access to the cells:
The problem of studying stem cell lines has plagued researchers for years. Despite their useful ability to replicate other cells in the body, embryonic stem cells have long invited controversy. Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka got around this when he manipulated adult skin cells to create induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs, in 2006. But the process for creating these cell lines can take months and requires expertise that smaller labs might not have.

The pairing of CDI’s ability to manufacture iPSC lines and Coriell’s expertise in banking them should result in the cell lines becoming cheaper and easier to obtain, opening them up to more researchers across the country.
The cell lines in the bank will represent a range of complex diseases including autism, blindness, cardiovascular disease, alzheimers and liver disease. By having access to those cells, scientists will be able to study the diseases in a lab dish, understand how the diseases develop and test possible therapies on human cells. You can see all of the cell line derivation awards on our website.

Amy Adams

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