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Central biobank for drug research
Date:9/3/2014

Human stem cells allow scientists to assess how patients are likely to respond to new drugs and to examine how illnesses come about. For a few years now, it has been possible to take tissue samples from adults and use reverse programming to artificially produce stem cells, which have the potential to create any kind of cell found in the human body. Before this discovery, pharmaceutical researchers had to use adult stem cells or primary cells, which have a more limited potential. Another option is to use stem cells derived from human embryos, but quite apart from the ethical considerations these cells are available only in limited diversity. The new technique makes it possible for instance to reprogram adult skin or blood cells so that they behave in a similar way to embryonic stem cells and can become any type of cell. "These are known as induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells for short," says Dr. Julia Neubauer from the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT in St. Ingbert, Germany. Although an increasing number of local biobanks have emerged in recent years, none of them fulfills the requirements of the pharmaceutical industry and research institutions. What is needed is a supply of 'ready-to-use' stem cells, which means large numbers of consistently characterized, systematically catalogued cells of suitable quality."

At the beginning of 2014, the IBMT teamed up with 26 industry and research partners to launch a project aimed at establishing a central biobank the European Bank for induced pluripotent Stem Cells (EBiSC) to generate iPS cells from patients with specific diseases or genetic mutations (http://ebisc.org/). Six months into the project and the first cells are available for use in the development of new drugs. By its three-year mark, it is hoped the project will be in a position to offer over 1000 defined and characterized cell lines comprising a hundred million cells.
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Contact: Julia Neubauer
julia.neubauer@ibmt.fraunhofer.de
0049-689-498-0258
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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