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Multimillion-dollar grants for stem cell biobank

25 March 2013

By Dr Shanya Sivakumaran

Appeared in BioNews 698

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) in San Francisco, USA, has awarded two multimillion-dollar grants to Cellular Dynamics International (CDI) in Wisconsin and Coriell Institute for Medical Research in New Jersey to generate and bank induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS cell) lines.

'Access to high fidelity iPS cell lines from a wide range of complex diseases will be an important accelerator of research', said Professor Alan Trounson, president of CIRM. 'This initiative will provide scientists with access to multiple cell lines that should have much of the genetic variations that represent the variety within any human disease'.

'Scientists and companies can use these cells to discover the nature and causes of the underlying human diseases in a way not feasible before', he added.

The $32 million project aims to create 9,000 iPS cell lines from 3,000 donors – three from each person. Eleven diseases will be represented, with tissue coming from people with Alzheimer's disease, autism spectrum disorder, cardiovascular, respiratory and liver diseases, and neurodevelopmental disabilities, such as cerebral palsy.

CDI was awarded $16 million to extract iPS cell lines and $10 million was granted to the Coriell Institute to establish and operate a biorepository for the extracted cell lines. The biobank will be responsible for the maintenance and safe storage of the iPS cells, as well as worldwide distribution to researchers.

Smaller grants for tissue collection were also issued to researchers from Stanford University and a number of institutes at the University of California, with nine different organisations involved in the project all together.

CIRM was set up in 2004 following the passage of Proposition 71, a ballot initiative approved by voters to provide $3 billion (with an annual spend limit of $350 million) to support stem cell research. It's latest initiative aims to generate and ensure the availability of high quality disease-specific human iPS cell resources.

iPS cells were first produced from human cells in 2007 and were the subject of the 2012 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine awarded to Professor Sir John Gurdon and Professor Shinya Yamanaka (reported in BioNews 676).

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Cellular Dynamics International (press release) | 21 March 2013
 
Coriell Institute for Medical Research (press release) | 21 March 2013
 
Philadelphia Business Journal | 21 March 2013
 

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