Six new human embryonic stem cell lines derived at the University of Michigan have just been placed on the U.S. National Institutes of Health's registry, making the cells available for federally-funded research.
U-M now has a total of eight cell lines on the registry, including five that carry genetic mutations for serious diseases such as the severe bleeding disorder hemophilia B, the fatal brain disorder Huntington's disease and the heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which causes sudden death in athletes and others.
Researchers at U-M and around the country can now begin using the stem cell lines to study the origins of these diseases and potential treatments. Two of the cell lines are believed to be the first in the world bearing that particular disease gene.
The three U-M stem cell lines now in the registry that do not carry disease genes are also useful for general studies and as comparisons for stem cells with disease genes. In all, there are 163 stem cell lines in the federal registry, most of them without major disease genes.
Each of the lines was derived from a cluster of about 30 cells removed from a donated five-day-old embryo roughly the size of the period at the end of this sentence. The embryos carrying disease genes were created for reproductive purposes, tested and found to be affected with a genetic disorder, deemed not suitable for implantation and would have otherwise been discarded if not donated by the couples who donated them.
Some came from couples having fertility treatment at U-M's Center for Reproductive Medicine, others from as far away as Portland, OR. Some were never frozen, which may mean that the stem cells will have unique characteristics and utilities.
The full list of U-M-derived stem cell lines accepted to the NIH registry includes:
UM9-1PGD – Hemophilia B
UM17-1 PGD – Huntington's disease
UM38-2 PGD - Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (MYBPC3)
UM15-4 PGD - Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase 4 Deficiency, a rare hormone disorder
UM11-1PGD - Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease Type 1A
UM4-6 – no disease gene
UM14-1 – no disease gene
UM14-2 – no disease gene
"Our last three years of work have really begun to pay off, paving the way for scientists worldwide to make novel discoveries that will benefit human health in the near future," says Gary Smith, Ph.D., who derived the lines and also is co-director of the U-M Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies, part of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute.
"Each cell line accepted to the registry demonstrates our attention to details of proper oversight, consenting, and following of NIH guidelines," says Sue O'Shea, Ph.D., professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at the U-M Medical School, and co-director of the Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies.