Scientists from King's College London have announced that 16 human embryonic stem (hES) cell lines have been approved by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and placed on their Stem Cell Registry, making them freely available for federally-funded research in the USA. The stem cell lines, which carry genes for a variety of hereditary disorders such as Huntington's disease, spinal muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis, are considered to be ideal research tools for designing models to understand disease progression, and ultimately in helping scientists develop new treatments for patients.
King's is now one of the five biggest providers of disease-specific human embryonic stem cells lines on the NIH Registry, and the largest from the UK. The development is a significant milestone for King's and keeps the university at the forefront of global research into regenerative medicine.
Embryonic stem cell lines are grown from frozen embryos donated by patients undergoing preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) in conjunction with IVF treatment. Unlike 'adult' stem cells, embryonic stem cells can differentiate into any type of cell within the body and are considered to be more useful for stem cell-based therapies. Disease-specific stem cell lines are created from embryos found to be affected with genetic disorders and therefore not suitable for implantation, but offer huge potential for research into disease development.
King's has already developed eight clinical-grade and more than 30 research-grade stem cell lines, which were approved by the UK Stem Cell Steering Committee to be deposited with the UK Stem Cell Bank (UKSCB) and distributed worldwide.
The sixteen lines of stem cells on the NIH Registry carry genes for various hereditary disorders including Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Huntington's Disease, cystic fibrosis, and rarer conditions such as Von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, spinal muscular atrophy, myotonic dystrophy and neurofibromatosis.
'Major contribution to global stem cell research'
Professor Peter Braude, Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, King's College London; and former director of the Stem Cell Programme and the Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis Programme, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, said: 'We are delighted that the NIH has found our lines useful and their procurement and consents in line with the strict guidelines that they have set. This achievement is the culmination of over ten years of painstaking research and consistent belief in the scientific usefulness of these very special cells to improve our understanding of genetic disease processes.
'This is a huge milestone for King's, and will allow us to make a major contribution to global stem cell research by having these stem cell lines available to scientists in the USA.
'These research-grade stem cell lines are essential not only to address basic questions in development and disease, but to test and implement technical improvements in culture conditions that might affect hES cell viability and pluripotency.'
Dr Dusko Ilic, Senior Lecturer in Stem Cell Science at King's College London, said: 'I'm delighted that the NIH has accepted our stem cell lines. There are now significant opportunities for US-based researchers to use these lines as tools to test the molecular mechanisms of common diseases, so it's fantastic that they are now freely available to advance the science of stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine.'
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About King's College LondonKing's College London is one of the top 20 universities in the world (2013/14 QS World University Rankings) and the fourth oldest in England. It is The Sunday Times 'Best University for Graduate Employment 2012/13'. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has more than 25,000 students (of whom more than 10,000 are graduate students) from nearly 140 countries, and more than 6,500 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.
King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £554 million.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine, nursing and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar.
King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners. King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit: http://www.kingshealthpartners.org.
The College is in the midst of a five-year, £500 million fundraising campaign – World questions|King's answers – created to address some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity as quickly as feasible. The campaign's five priority areas are neuroscience and mental health, leadership and society, cancer, global power and children's health. More information about the campaign is available at http://www.kcl.ac.uk/kingsanswers.
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