The University of Michigan’s first human embryonic stem
cell line will be placed on the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s registry,
making the cells available for federally funded research. It is the first of
the stem cell lines derived at the University
of Michigan to be placed
on the registry.
known as UM4-6, is a genetically normal line, derived in October 2010 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. That embryo was created for
reproduction but was no longer needed for that purpose and was therefore about
to be discarded.
significant, because acceptance of these cells on the registry demonstrates our
attention to details of proper oversight, consenting, and following of NIH
guidelines established in 2009,” says Gary Smith, PhD, who derived the line and
also is co-director of the U-M Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies, part of the
A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute.
makes the line available to researchers who can apply for federal funding to
use it in their work; this is an important step.”
The line is
the culmination of years of planning and preparation and was made possible by
Michigan voters’ November 2008 approval of a state constitutional amendment
permitting scientists here to derive embryonic stem cell lines using surplus
embryos from fertility clinics or embryos with genetic abnormalities and not
suitable for implantation.
these cells will be used by investigators worldwide to enhance our understanding
of stem cell biology, and together with disease-specific lines, discover
treatments and cures for genetic diseases,” says Smith, who is a professor in
the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan
U-M is among
just a handful of U.S.
universities creating human embryonic stem cell lines. There are only 147 stem
cell lines available on the registry.
envision in the future that investigators will be able to use the genetically
normal embryonic stem cell lines like UM4-6, together with disease-specific
embryonic stem cell lines, as a model system to investigate what causes these
diseases and come up with treatments,” says Sue O’Shea, professor of Cell and
Developmental Biology, and co-director of the Consortium for Stem Cell
has two other human embryonic stem cells lines submitted to the national
registry. Both are disease specific, the first carrying the genetic defect that
causes hemophilia B, and the other carries the gene responsible for
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a hereditary neurological disorder.
expects to soon submit eight additional human embryonic stem lines for
consideration on the national registry: three genetically normal and five new