Home Technology & science Scientists unveil the UK’s largest resource of human stem cells from healthy donors 

Scientists unveil the UK’s largest resource of human stem cells from healthy donors 

11 May 2017

Image: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Penn State – Microscope view of stem cells reprogrammed from adult skin cells (red blobs), morphing into human brain cells (green blobs)

One of the largest sets of high quality human induced pluripotent stem cell lines from healthy individuals has been produced in collaboration with scientists from King’s.

Comprehensively annotated and available for independent research, the hundreds of stem cell lines are a powerful resource for scientists studying human development and disease.

Recent technological advancements have made it possible to take an adult cell and use specific growth conditions to turn back the clock – returning it to an early embryonic state. This results in an induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC), which can develop into any type of cell in the body.

These iPSCs have huge scientific potential for studying the development and impact of diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.

However, the process of creating an iPSC is long and complicated and few laboratories have the facilities to characterise their cells in a way that makes them useful for other scientists to use.

Along with partners from the European Bioinformatics Institute, the University of Dundee and the University of Cambridge, the Human induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Initiative (HipSci) project used standardised methods to generate iPSCs on a large scale to investigate in unprecedented detail the extensive variation between stem cells from different healthy people.

Professor Fiona Watt, Director of the Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine at King’s and one of the lead authors of the paper said: ‘Many other efforts to create stem cells focus on rare diseases. In our study, stem cells have been produced from hundreds of healthy volunteers to study common genetic variation. We were able to show similar characteristics of iPS cells from the same person, and revealed that up to 46 per cent of the differences we saw in iPS cells were due to differences between individuals. These data will allow researchers to put disease variations in context with healthy people.’

Interested in studying at the Division of Genetics and Molecular Medicine – find out more.


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