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Stem cell research in the UK reaches significant milestone
Date:12/6/2011

Stem cell scientists at King's College London will today (Tuesday 6 December) announce they have submitted to the UK Stem Cell Bank (UKSCB) their first clinical grade human embryonic stem (hES) cell lines that are free from animal-derived products, known as 'xeno-free' stem cells.

The cells, which have the potential to become the 'gold standard' lines for developing new stem cell-based therapies, will be the first deposited in the UKSCB based at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, under arrangements that will ensure they are freely accessible to the wider research community. The expectation is that these cells will be grown and processed by the UKSCB to provide stem cell stocks that will be used for clinical research and treatment to benefit patients.

Researchers say this is a significant milestone; this first batch of cells is the culmination of nearly ten years of research funded strategically by the Medical Research Council (MRC) that will keep the UK at the forefront of regenerative medicine.

Embryonic stem cells can be grown in the laboratory indefinitely while retaining their capacity to develop into specialised cell types, such as nerve or heart muscle cells, which can then be used in clinical trials. More than 20 'research grade' stem cell lines have been provided by King's to the UKSCB since it derived the first research grade hES cell lines in the UK in 2003, but the challenge to date has been to establish appropriate derivation and growing conditions for the cells without the presence of any animal products, such as porcine enzymes, bovine serum or mouse feeder layers.

Clinical use of hES cells is already being explored in a number of phase 1 safety trials, such as spinal cord injury and macular degeneration. However, the hES cell lines used in these trials were reclassified from 'research grade' to 'clinical grade' for specified short-term clinical studies in selected disease states, as a matte
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Contact: Katherine Barnes
katherine.barnes@kcl.ac.uk
44-020-784-83076
King's College London
Source:Eurekalert

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