First bank of human stem cells opens in Britain
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
19 May 2004


The world's first human stem cell bank officially opens today, marking the start of a potential revolution in the treatment of incurable diseases.

Among the first deposits in the bank are two continually-replicating "lines" of embryonic stem cells derived from spare embryos donated by women who have undergone in-vitro fertilisation.

Medical researchers believe that embryonic stem cells - which have the power to develop into any of the scores of specialised tissues of the body - hold the key to repairing diseased organs and tissues and could treat anything from diabetes to brain disorders.

The stem cell bank is based at the National Institutes for Biological Standards and Control at Potters Bar in Hertfordshire. In addition to embryonic cells, it will also hold stem cells derived from aborted foetuses and adult patients.The bank will supply medical scientists with cells for research purposes only.

Lord Warner, the health minister, said the stem cell bank is being funded jointly by the research councils and that it is the first of its type in the world. He said: "This potentially revolutionary research could benefit thousands of patients whose lives are blighted by devastating diseases such as Parkinson's, strokes and Alzheimer's."

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