The UK Stem Cell Bank (UKSCB) has announced it has joined forces with the recently established University of Massachusetts (UMASS) Human Stem Cell Bank and Registry for the exchange of stem cell technology and expertise. The banks will collaborate on various aspects of stem cell banking, including best practice standards and the delivery of stem cell lines for clinical use.
The UKSCB was founded through government support in January 2003 to provide a repository of human embryonic, fetal and adult stem cell lines. The UMASS bank, founded in 2008, has joined forces with the UKSCB to harmonise and pool stem cell resources and technology to accelerate stem cell research, therapeutic development and commercial production.
Dr Rob Buckle, head of Neurosciences and Mental Health at the Medical Research Council said: 'By working closely together we have every reason to hope that we will be able to realise the full potential of stem cell research and bring breakthroughs to the clinic more quickly'.
Both organisations will establish mutually-agreed standards for stem cell line characterisation, production, and distribution, and devise international training events for stem cell researchers. Other areas for collaboration may include the identification of issues surrounding co-distribution of cell lines for research and the exploration of funding opportunities for joint research projects.
Stem cell bank representatives signed a Memorandum of Understanding last Tuesday during a ceremony at the Health Protection Agency's National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) where the UKSCB is based.
Each year in the UK, more than 400 patients with conditions like leukaemia are reportedly unable to find a suitable adult bone marrow or cord blood match for stem cell transplantation. It is hoped stem cell treatments may, in future, help people suffering from degenerative illnesses, such as Parkinson's disease or diabetes, by repairing and replacing damaged tissue.