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NIGMS awards contract to expand human genetic cell repository

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) has awarded a $27 million, five-year contract to the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden, N.J., to continue and expand operation of the NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository (HGCR). Under the new contract, the HGCR plans to enhance its collection of carefully maintained human cell lines by adding induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells that carry disease gene mutations.

"The addition of iPS cells will make the repository an even more valuable resource," said Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., director of NIGMS. "In addition to teaching important lessons about biology, these cells hold great promise for studyingand maybe one day treatinga wide range of diseases."

While not derived from embryos, iPS cells offer the same scientifically desirable properties as embryonic stem cells. They reproduce indefinitely and have a similar potential to become any of the more than 200 cell types in the body. The iPS cells will enable scientists to more readily examine normal cell development and study the effect of one or more disease genes in many different cell types. The iPS cells will be available to researchers in about six months.

Established by NIGMS in 1972, the HGCR provides human cell lines and DNA for use in genetic and genomic research. Scientists use the cells and DNA to identify genes and biochemical changes associated with a wide range of conditions and to study rare genetic diseases. The repository's materials have helped scientists gain important insights into a number of disorders, including Huntington's disease, cystic fibrosis and Fragile X syndrome.

The HGCR collection currently contains over 10,000 cell lines, each of which has been comprehensively characterized, tested to ensure genetic integrity and maintained free of contaminants. The largest part of the repository is the inherited disease collection, which represents more than 1,000 disorders.

To aid understanding of human genetic variation, the HGCR collection also includes cell lines and DNA samples from populations around the world and from several ethnic groups within the United States.

Under the new contract, the HGCR will also begin meeting custom orders, such as for panels of RNA samples or cells grown under specific conditions.

The HGCR distributes samples for a nominal fee through a Web-based catalog. Each entry includes detailed information about the clinical characteristics of the donor as well as the genetic and biochemical features of the cell line.

Samples in the repository come with informed consent from people with inherited diseases and from healthy donors. The repository protects the privacy of donors by stripping its records of personally identifying information.


Contact: Alisa Machalek
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences

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