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Technique for Creating Authentic Rat Embryonic Stem Cells Published in Cell
Date:12/29/2008

CAMBRIDGE, England, December 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --

- Technology Licensed Exclusively by Stem Cell Sciences

- ("Stem Cell Sciences", "SCS", "the Company")

Stem Cell Sciences plc (AIM:STEM, ASX:STC) is pleased to announce that pioneering research describing a technique for creating authentic embryonic stem (ES) cells from rats has been published in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal, Cell (Ref. 1). This publication is believed to be the first in which germ-line transmission from rat ES cells has been definitively demonstrated. It uses technology licensed exclusively to SCS from the University of Edinburgh and developed by Professor Austin Smith and his team, now at Cambridge University. The technique is expected to allow the generation of consistently pure and stable rat ES cells, from which drug discovery assays as well as genetically modified animals can be created for academic, medical and pharmaceutical research.

The rat has been a hugely important organism in medical research and drug discovery over the past 100 years, during which time a large body of information on rat models of disease has been generated. Physiological processes and metabolic functions in the rat more closely mimic those of the human than do other model organisms such as the mouse and as a result the rat is regarded as the gold standard for studying the effects of drugs in the body. However, further studies such as defining drug action or the genetic basis of disease using rats have been hindered by the lack of sophisticated, precision genetic engineering, such as that achievable via ES cells in mice. Such barriers have now been overcome; by applying specific cell culture conditions, authentic rat ES cells can be made which can be precision engineered and then used to generate a completely novel range of rat models.

The main advantage afforded by this technology is that it allows the generation of both knock-out rat models, in which the effect of gene deletion is studied, as well as the generation of knock-in models, which involves the insertion of genes, perhaps human genes, in a precisely defined manner. For example, in the case of knock-out models, a lack of response or different response profile to drugs compared with non-engineered animals can provide information on drug efficacy. Alternatively, the insertion of genes such as those involved in drug metabolism in the human liver means that knock-in models can provide information on drug safety & metabolism. Under the terms of its agreement with Edinburgh University, SCS has global exclusive rights to commercialise pluripotent rat stem cells, the specific culture medium used to generate and grow the cells, and rats derived therefrom.

Dr Alastair Riddell, Chief Executive Officer of Stem Cell Sciences, said, "The impact of this new technique could be far-reaching in terms of opening the way to new and more effective drug discovery. Rat models are expected to be highly predictive of human responses to drugs, particularly for in psychiatric, neurological and cardiovascular areas. With this new technique allowing researchers to knock-in human genes it will be possible to conduct drug metabolism and toxicology studies with even higher predictability in rats than ever before. We expect there to be considerable commercial interest from companies wanting to access this exciting technology."

Reference

(1.) Buehr et al., Capture of Authentic Embryonic Stem Cells from Rat Blastocysts, Cell (2008), doi:10.1016/j.cell.2008.12.007

About Stem Cell Sciences plc

Stem Cell Sciences (SCS) is an international research and development company focusing on the commercial application of stem cell biology technologies for drug discovery and regenerative medicine research. Stem Cell Sciences is now focussing on building revenues through the sale of products, collaborative research and licensing deals with international biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.

Stem Cell Sciences has a substantial portfolio of patents and patent applications in both adult and embryonic stem cell fields. The Company has been active in the stem cell research field since 1994, principally focused on technologies to grow, differentiate, and purify adult and embryonic stem cells. These include technologies to permit the generation of highly purified stem cells and their differentiated progeny (specialised tissue cell types) for use in genetic, pharmacological and toxicological screens. Moreover, these technologies may be able to provide pure populations of appropriate cell types for transplantation therapies in the future.

The Company has its main research base and headquarters in Cambridge, UK with a second research base in Monash near Melbourne, Australia and a business development office in San Francisco, USA.

For further information on the company please visit: http://www.stemcellsciences.com

    For further information, please contact:
    Stem Cell Sciences plc (United Kingdom)
    Alastair Riddell, CEO
    Tim Allsopp, Chief Scientific Officer
    +44(0)1223-499160


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SOURCE Stem Cell Sciences plc
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