First deposit signals that the UK stem cell bank is open for business

May 20, 2004

Brussels, 19 May 2004

The UK stem cell bank, the only such facility in the world, officially opened on 19 May with the deposit of the first human embryonic stem cell line ever developed in Europe.

The inauguration of the bank, which will eventually contain stem cell lines derived from embryos, foetuses and adults, places the UK at the forefront of one of the most controversial areas of modern science.

The new line was grown by Dr Stephen Minger and Dr Susan Pickering from King's College London. The pair used a novel technique to harvest the stem cells from a human embryo donated by patients undergoing pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) therapy at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital.

Professor Peter Braude, who heads up the pre-implantation genetic programme at the hospital, said: 'We are very grateful to our patients for rising to this need to help us develop a national resource for research and therapy [...], comfortable in the knowledge that their contribution has not jeopardised their own fertility or genetic treatment in any way.'

The bank's raison d'etre is to store, characterise and clone cells, thereby providing scientists in Europe and the rest of the world with a source of high quality stem cell lines for research purposes. A number of embryonic stem cell lines have already been developed in other parts of the world, but their quality can vary and access to them is limited and expensive.

Dr Minger, head of the stem cell laboratory at King's College London, said: 'The stem cells we are banking will be a crucial resources for future research into diseases such as type 1 diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. The bank accepts only high quality lines that will be of benefit to other scientists, and we are delighted our cells are among the first to be accepted.'

Before a new stem cell line can be deposited in the bank, or access granted to existing lines, all applications must be reviewed and authorised by a high level steering committee. Such controls do not go far enough for many though, and a number of organisations and political parties in Europe have called for the practice of using stem cells derived from human embryos for research purposes to be banned.

Despite ongoing opposition to the bank, however, it is clear that, with further lines waiting to be deposited, European researchers now have access to a resource for stem cell research unequalled anywhere in the world.

For further information, please consult the following web address:

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Home secretary says government will support 'best' universities

Man handing microphone to audience member

Academic attainment of disadvantaged students can be improved if they can decide how they are assessed, study claims

Woman drinking tea from saucer

Plugging a multibillion-pound deficit exacerbated by June’s poll result may require ‘drastic measures’, analysts have warned

PhD lettered on book spine

Billy Bryan and Furaha Asani look at how to get the most out of your doctoral studies

Italy's gold medallist

New measures to ensure universities are ‘not penalised’ for taking poorer students also outlined for next stage of TEF