LONDON, U.K., September 24, 2013 – Scientists here have announced that 16 human embryonic stem (hES) cell lines have been approved by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and placed on their Stem Cell Registry, making them freely available for federally-funded research in the United States.
The stem cell lines, which carry genes for a variety of hereditary disorders such as Huntington’s disease, spinal muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis, are considered to be ideal research tools for designing models to understand disease progression, and ultimately in helping scientists develop new treatments for patients.
King’s College London is now one of the five biggest providers of disease-specific human embryonic stem cells lines on the NIH Registry, and the largest from the U.K. The development is a significant milestone for King’s and keeps the university at the forefront of global research into regenerative medicine.
Embryonic stem cell lines are grown from frozen embryos donated by patients undergoing preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) in conjunction with IVF treatment.
Unlike adult stem cells, embryonic stem cells can differentiate into any type of cell within the body and are considered to be more useful for stem cell-based therapies.
Disease-specific stem cell lines are created from embryos found to be affected with genetic disorders and therefore not suitable for implantation, but offer huge potential for research into disease development.
King’s has already developed eight clinical-grade and more than 30 research-grade stem cell lines, which were approved by the U.K. Stem Cell Steering Committee to be deposited with the U.K. Stem Cell Bank (UKSCB) and distributed worldwide.
The sixteen lines of stem cells on the NIH Registry carry genes for various hereditary disorders including Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and rarer conditions such as Von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, spinal muscular atrophy, myotonic dystrophy and neurofibromatosis.
The research-grade stem cell lines are essential not only to address basic questions in development and disease, but to test and implement technical improvements in culture conditions that might affect hES cell viability and pluripotency, scientists said.