Brussels, 13 Aug 2003
Researchers in the UK have announced the generation of Europe's first human embryonic stem cell line.
The breakthrough was made by a team of scientists from King's College London, led by Dr Stephen Minger and Dr Susan Pickering. The stem cell line is expected to be the first included in the UK's new stem cell bank.
Team member Professor Peter Braude said: 'The UK stem cell bank is an idea worth supporting as it will allow maximum research by use of as few embryos as possible. We are proud of the particular way that our lines have been generated. We believe that the derivation has been wholly ethical as the blastocysts used would otherwise have been discarded.'
The team took a new approach to collecting the stem cells from which the new line was generated. The embryos were donated by couples undergoing preimplantation genetic diagnosis and, having not been selected for implantation due to possible genetic disorders, would normally have been destroyed.
The resources of the UK stem cell bank will be made available to researchers across Europe in order to promote fundamental research into therapies for conditions such a diabetes and Parkinson's disease.
Dr Minger said: 'We are very excited about this development. Human embryonic stem cells are found in the earliest stages of development and are capable of giving rise to all the different types of cell in the body. This means their possible therapeutic uses are almost endless.'