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Thread: UK Stem Cell Bank

  1. #1

    UK Stem Cell Bank

    From the BBC News website
    Monday, 9 September, 2002

    UK stem cell bank manager named

    A leading science body is to oversee Europe's first stem cell bank, to be based in the UK.

    The National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) has been awarded a £2.6m contract to set up the bank by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

    Stem cells are hailed as a potentially revolutionary way of treating disease and repairing damage to the body.

    It is thought they could one day be used to treat conditions like Alzheimer's and diabetes.

    The aim of the bank is to allow the huge amount of research needed to better understand stem cells to take place.

    The bank, which could be up and running within a year, will hold cell lines, derived from stem cells, which survive indefinitely and continue to multiply and reproduce.

    It will hold new and existing adult, fetal and embryonic stem cell lines.
    A steering committee made up of scientists and bio-ethicists will develop a code of practice and regulate the running of the bank.

    'Tremendous boon'

    Professor Sir George Radda, chief executive of the MRC, said: "Stem cell research holds real promise for the treatment of many life-threatening diseases and conditions and the bank will allow researchers to explore this enormous potential in a controlled environment."

    Professor Julia Goodfellow, chief executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, which will fund the bank along with the MRC, added: "The bank will be a tremendous boon for keeping UK science at the very forefront of this important area of research.

    "It is vitally important that we develop a firm understanding of how stem cells work so that we can go on to safely deliver the amazing healthcare benefits that this science offers and revolutionise our knowledge of fertilisation and embryo development."

    The director of the NIBSC, Dr Steven Inglis, will speak at an MRC conference on stem cells, to be held in London on Wednesday.

    He told the BBC it could be years before any pharmaceutical developments resulted from stem cell research.

    But he added: "There have been encouraging signs, both from research and early clinical studies, in .for example, bone marrow transplant and others, that stem cell research is looking at."

    The NIBSC, based in Hertfordshire, is a government funded body charged with assuring the quality of biological materials such as vaccines and blood products.

    Health Minister Lord Hunt said: "The stem cell bank will be the first of its kind in Europe and will ensure that the UK retains its international position in this exciting field which promises to bring a revolution in healthcare.
    "Whilst stem cell research holds out enormous potential for delivering new treatments for many diseases and disorders currently without cure, there will be a long period of work in research laboratories during which scientists will learn more about the way stem cells work.

    "This is one of the ways in which the stem cell bank will be of great benefit."

    Opposition

    However some critics fear that the existence of the bank could mean couples undergoing IVF treatment could be put under pressure to donate spare embryos.
    Anti-abortion campaigners are also against the bank, arguing equally effective treatments could be developed without using embryos.

    The concept of a stem cell bank was first proposed by the influential UK body of scientists, the Royal Society, in March 2000, and later backed by Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson.

    Parliament has agreed that embryos up to the age of 14 days could be used to get embryonic stem cells.

    Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans. - John Lennon

  2. #2
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    Scientists Must Bank Embryo Stem Cells: Regulator

    Scientists Must Bank Embryo Stem Cells: Regulator
    Wed Sep 11, 1:42 PM ET
    By Richard Woodman

    LONDON (Reuters Health) - Britain will force scientists working on embryonic stem cells to donate their cell lines to the national stem cell bank, the head of the body that regulates embryo research said on Wednesday.



    Suzi Leather, chair of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, said the authority would only license such research on condition that a sample of any cell lines created is placed in the bank.

    "It is not lawful in this country for embryonic stem cells to be generated without a license from the authority," she told a stem cell conference in London that was picketed by a small group of "pro-life" students who said destroying embryos for research purposes was unacceptable.

    The meeting was organized by the Medical Research Council (MRC). The council announced earlier this week that the bank would be set up by the National Institute of Biological Standards and Control, which expects to be storing the first cell lines within 12 months.

    Leather told Reuters Health that the regulation obliging researchers to donate their cell lines to the bank was designed to ensure that the public benefited and in order to maintain public confidence. "This is absolutely critical. We don't want a repeat of what happened with genetically modified foods."

    She added that the authority was "working closely with the MRC to ensure that adequate provisions are in place for overseeing the subsequent use of stem cells and that the public will benefit as directly as possible from the outcomes of this research."

    The authority also planned to publish more details of the research it licenses on its Web site because it was "important that people know what embryo research is being carried out and with what intended public benefit." Leather added that a balance would have to be struck between greater public transparency and protecting the confidentiality of researchers.

    MRC chief executive Professor Sir George Radda said the new regulation would apply only to embryonic stem cells--not adult or fetal stem cells.

    He said it was clearly essential to protect the intellectual property of bank donors and details of how best to do this would be worked out by the MRC's technology transfer company.

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