Stem Cell Bank Gets First Deposits

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Science  28 May 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5675, pp. 1239
DOI: 10.1126/science.304.5675.1239a

The world's first publicly funded stem cell bank is open for business. The U.K. Stem Cell Bank, in Potters Bar, outside London, received its first donations on 19 May: two human embryonic stem (ES) cell lines derived by researchers in Newcastle and in London. The bank, funded by the U.K. Medical Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, plans to start distributing cell lines within the next couple of months (Science, 13 September 2002, p. 1784).

British scientists who are licensed by the national Human Fertilisation and Embryo Authority to derive new ES cells from human embryos must agree to donate samples to the bank, says Alison Murdoch, a fertility researcher at the Centre for Life in Newcastle, where one of the new lines was derived. The bank will store, characterize, and distribute stem cells from embryonic, fetal, and adult tissues and will distribute them to researchers worldwide for a fee. U.S. government-funded researchers won't be able to use the cell lines donated last week, however, because they were derived after August 2001.

Murdoch's group is not only one of the first to submit a cell line but also the first to apply for permission to experiment with human nuclear transfer to create new sources of ES cells. The application was submitted in February, she says, and she expects to receive approval sometime this summer.

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