Hundreds of new stem cell lines ready to help research – The San Diego Union-Tribune

By daniellenierenberg

Induced pluripotent stem cells have revolutionized stem cell science in the decade since their invention. Theyre yielding clues into the nature of diseases such as cancer and Alzheimers, and are also being tapped for therapy.

But creating these IPS cells is lengthy, complicated and tricky, and the facilities equipped to make them cant accommodate all the scientists whod like to get their hands on them.

A UK-led consortium has removed that bottleneck, by producing 711 lines of ready-to-go IPS cells from healthy individuals. These lines are meant to help scientists understand the normal variations between healthy individuals and those involved in disease, as well as to understand normal human biology and development.

The IPS lines are available for research purposes to academic scientists and industry by contacting the Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Initiative (HipSci), at and the European Bank for induced Pluripotent Stem Cells at

The accomplishment was announced in a study published in Nature. It can be found online at

While many other efforts have generated IPS cells to address rare diseases, this study produces them from healthy volunteers to plumb common genetic variation, Fiona Watt, a lead author on the paper and co-principal investigator of HipSci, from King's College London, said in a statement.

"We were able to show similar characteristics of iPS cells from the same person, and revealed that up to 46 per cent of the differences we saw in iPS cells were due to differences between individuals, Watt said in the statement. These data will allow researchers to put disease variations in context with healthy people."

Andrs Bratt-Leal, director of the Parkinson's Cell Therapy Program at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, agreed.

This kind of study is extremely important because it leads to a deeper understanding of the differences between normal genetic variation and genetic changes that could negatively impact cell behavior, said Bratt-Leal, who was not involved in the study.

This data will help scientists using induced pluripotent stem cells to model diseases as well as scientists developing cell therapies, said Bratt-Leal, who works in the lab of stem cell researcher Jeanne Loring.

Because DNA sequencing has become a routine tool in the lab, enormous amounts of data have been produced, he said. Not only have we have observed a high level of genetic diversity between different people, but also a more subtle variation exists among the cells from an individual person. The next step is a better understanding of how this diversity translates to function and behavior of stem cells and mature cells derived from stem cells.

Loring and Bratt-Leal are studying the use of induced pluripotent stem cells to relieve symptoms of Parkinsons disease. They are in the process of translating the research into a therapy, aided with a grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

The work was the product of a large-scale collaboration of scientists from various institutions in the United Kingdom, including the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Cambridge; Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge; the University of Dundee in Dundee; and the University of Cambridge. Also participating was St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research in Victoria, Australia.

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1:00 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details.

This article was originally published at 10:00 a.m.

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Hundreds of new stem cell lines ready to help research - The San Diego Union-Tribune

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