World’s largest publicly available stem cell bank launched

Written by Alexandra Thompson

The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), Coriell Institute and Fujifilm company Cellular Dynamics International, Inc. (CDI) have collaborated to generate the world’s largest public stem cell bank, the $32-million CIRM hPSC Repository, which opened this week. It has already made 300 iPSC lines available to customers, and aims to speed up the use of engineered stem cells to tackle a variety of diseases.

The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has joined forces with the Coriell Institute and Cellular Dynamics International (CDI) to open largest publically available stem cell bank in the world. The iPSC bank will help researchers to identify the causes of and potentially help treat several different diseases, such as autism, blinding eye diseases, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2013, CDI teamed up with the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in a pledge to create induced pluripotent stem (iPSC) lines from both healthy and diseased donors, for which they received a US$32 million grant from CIRM. Half of the money was given to CDI, $10 million to Coriell and the rest was for helping academic centers to sign up donors.

“We believe the Bank will be an extraordinarily important resource in helping advance the use of stem cell tools for the study of diseases and finding new ways to treat them,” stated Jonathan Thomas, Chair of the agency’s governing Board, which approved the CIRM hPSC Repository’s US$32-million funding. “While many stem cell efforts in the past have provided badly needed new tools for studying rare genetic diseases, this Bank represents both rare and common diseases that afflict many Californians. Stem cell technology offers a critical new approach toward developing new treatments and cures for those diseases as well.”

Organizations supported by CIRM must carry out the resulting activities in the state of California; as a result, the iPSC bank project was built in Novato at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Tissue samples are collected by researchers at the University of California San Francisco, UC San Diego, UC Los Angeles and Stanford University; samples are then turned into different cell lines by CDI; and finally, the cell lines are then stored and distributed to researchers across the globe by Coriell Institute for Medical Research from the Buck Institute facility.

The Bank has made 300 cell lines available for purchase already, but plans to raise the number to 750 by February 2016 and again to 3000 by the end of that year. Kaz Hirao, CDI Chairman and CEO, commented: “The lines available from the CIRM stem cell bank directly complement CDI’s ability to provide differentiated cells corresponding to each of these iPSC lines, which will allow researchers to model the diseases represented, better understand disease progression, perform more targeted drug discovery, and ultimately lead to better treatments.”