Laurent noted that simply asking cell donors about their ethnic heritage does not provide accurate data. "There's often an ancestor from a different area who a person doesn't know about," she said.
The technology used for the new study, known as SNP genotyping, uses microarrays, which are easily available, inexpensive, and relatively straight forward for scientists to use.
When the Scripps Research scientists applied the technique to the embryonic stem cell lines, they found that Caucasians were especially well represented among the samples, followed by East Asians. Cells of some mixed heritage were also common. Notably lacking from the samples were cell lines representing African heritage.
In addition, the authors found that the country in which a cell line was generated did not necessarily predict the ethnicity of the donor.
In creating a new pluripotent stem cell line from an individual with a West African Yoruba background, the scientists generated a line that contains distinct genetic markers for disease risk and drug metabolism.
"There's not a lot of value in making a new pluripotent stem cell line now unless it has something new to offer," said Loring. "I think that increasing ethnicity and genetic diversity is an important reason for generating new lines."
The data generated by the studywhich Loring describes as the foundation of a new database of human pluripotent stem cell genetic informationwill be available for other researchers to access for studies on specific genes, stem cell transplantation, and other topics.
|Contact: Keith McKeown|
Scripps Research Institute