Scotland's Roslin Institute is set to become part of Europe's first centre to sell useable human embryonic stem cells (ES cells) for research. It will set up a new £2 million centre - the Roslin Cells Centre (RCC) - which will be based in Midlothian and will market the cells to researchers on a non-profit basis.
The project is a partnership between the Roslin Institute - which created Dolly the sheep - Edinburgh University and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service. It has been funded by Scottish Enterprise, which hopes that it will become self-financing after three years and will help turn Scotland into a world leader in stem cell technology, leading to greater investment and creating jobs. The RCC will be based at Roslin before eventually relocating to the £600 million centre for biomedical research near the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in the Little France region of the city.
The RCC will use donated eggs and embryos in order to produce ES cell lines to be used by researchers at universities, in the NHS and commercial enterprises studying potential new treatments for diseases such as Parkinson's, diabetes and leukaemia.
Neil Francis, deputy chief executive at Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian, commented that 'as well as having huge potential to make significant breakthroughs in the treatment of some of the most debilitating diseases, the stem cell sector has the potential to become one of the key drivers of Scotland's knowledge economy'. He added that 'the Roslin Cells Centre is an important step in establishing a strong commercial sector based on Scotland's existing world-class scientific strengths'. Dr Paul De Sousa, senior research fellow at Edinburgh University and project manager at the RCC, said that 'the not-for-profit initiative will provide huge benefits to academics and companies already working in the stem cell field or seeking to enter it', adding that it is hoped that the RCC stem cell lines would be available to sell by 2007. Professor Harry Griffin, director of the Roslin Institute, added 'this new initiative represents a key step in the drive to deliver safe and effective stem cell therapies'.