An international team of scientists led by researchers at The Scripps Research Institute has developed a straightforward technique to determine the ethnic origin of stem cells.
The Scripps Research scientists initiated the studypublished in the January 2010 edition of the prestigious journal Nature Methodsbecause the availability of genetically diverse cell lines for cell replacement therapy and drug development could have important medical consequences. Research has shown that discordance between the ethnic origin of organ donors and recipients can influence medical outcomes for tissue transplantation, and that the safety and effectiveness of specific drugs can vary widely depending on ethnic background.
The team's analysis of a variety of human embryonic stem cell lines currently in use in research laboratories around the world found that these cells originated largely from Caucasian and East Asian populations, with little representation from populations originating in Africa. In response to these results, the scientists used skin cells from an individual of West African Yoruba heritage to create a new stem cell line, the first to carry the genetic profile of this ethnic group.
"Ethnic origin is a critical piece of information that should come with every cell line," said Scripps Research Professor Jeanne Loring, Ph.D., who is senior author of the paper. "Everyone who works with stem cells should be doing this kind of analysis."
"Knowing that a big push in the future is using these lines in the clinic and in drug development, there's a need to have an ethnically diverse population of cells," added Louise Laurent, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and research associate at Scripps Research, who is first author of the paper with Caroline Nievergelt, Ph.D., also an assistant professor at UCSD.
Greater diversity in cell samples would set the stage for more broadl
|Contact: Keith McKeown|
Scripps Research Institute