The Fertility Show, Manchester Central, 24-25 March 2018
Page URL:

Drug companies and universities team up to create European stem cell bank

10 December 2012
Appeared in BioNews 685

Ten drugs companies and 23 European universities will work to develop a stem cell bank that researchers will use in fundamental disease research and to test potential new medicines.

Called StemBANCC, the project was initiated and will be coordinated by the University of Oxford and the Swiss-based pharmaceutical company Roche. It will receive €55.6 million in funding over five years, with €26 million coming from the European Union's Innovative Medicines Initiative. The participating drugs firms will furnish €21 million in 'in kind' contributions.

Martin Graf, Head of the Stem Cell Platform and coordinator of the project at Roche, says: 'The aim of StemBANCC is to generate and characterise 1,500 high quality human induced pluripotent stem cell [iPSC] lines derived from 500 patients that can be used by researchers to study a range of diseases, including diabetes and dementia'­.

Induced pluripotent stem cells are created by reprogramming normal adult cells so that they enter a state similar to that found in embryonic stem cells and then can be made to grow into other types of cell. So cells from patients' blood or skin can be used to generate other specialised cell types - heart cells or neurons, for example - relevant to the disease being investigated. These cells can then be used in laboratory tests for early stage drug development.

Because such cells contain patients' genes, they might include genes implicated in the disease of interest. Dr Zameel Cader, a consultant neurologist at the University of Oxford and principal scientist of StemBANCC says that iPSCs represent 'the perfect platform for finding drugs. It's superior because we are looking directly at human cells from the patient, capturing the genetic complexity of the disease'.

Currently, new compounds are likely to be screened in lab cell lines that are amenable to study but bear little resemblance to patients' cells.

Dr Sally Cowley, also from the University of Oxford, adds: 'Because the stem cells can be expanded indefinitely, we can essentially produce an infinite number of these patient-derived cells to work with. They can be stored, shipped around the world, and potentially made accessible to any researcher anywhere'.

The StemBANCC project will initially focus on disorders of the nervous system, such as neuropathic pain and Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as well as diabetes.

15 May 2017 - by Shaoni Bhattacharya 
One of the world's largest sets of human stem cell lines from healthy people was unveiled last week...
16 September 2013 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
A Singaporean-based company has become the first company to offer iPS cell banking to the public...
25 February 2013 - by Maria Sheppard 
Human embryonic stem cell lines approved for federal funding in the USA, may have been derived from sperm or eggs of unconsenting donors...
14 January 2013 - by Dr Anna Cauldwell 
Tissue derived from induced pluripotent stem cells causes 'limited or no immune response' in mice, a study published in Nature has found...
2 July 2012 - by Ruth Retassie 
The University of Massachusetts (UMass) Stem Cell Bank, opened in response to restrictions on the funding of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research in the USA, will close after just four years in existence when it runs out of public funding later this year....
19 September 2011 - by Dr Maria Teresa Esposito 
A new stem cell lab in Cape Town, South Africa, has renewed the debate over stem cell banking in the country...
21 March 2011 - by MacKenna Roberts 
The UK Stem Cell Bank (UKSCB) has announced it has forged an affiliation 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...
13 March 2007 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
A hospital in the US has teamed up with a biotechnology company to allow pregnant women to bank their baby's cord blood and placental stem cells in what is thought to be the first official programme to encourage stem cell banking in the country. The Saint Barnabas...
17 September 2006 - by Heidi Nicholl 
American biotech company WiCell, based in Wisconsin, has agreed to help distribute any stem cell lines created using a new, still controversial, technique developed by Advanced Cell Technologies (ACT). The new technique was reported in Nature on 24 August and describes a 'proof of principle' that stem...
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.