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New human embryonic stem-cell lines to be made available to researchers

Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers at Harvard University announced today that they have derived 17 new human embryonic stem-cell lines. The new cell lines will be made available to researchers, although at this time United States policies prohibit the use of federal funds to investigate these cells.

The cell lines were derived using private funds by researchers in the laboratory of Douglas A. Melton, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator at Harvard University. The researchers described the stem-cell lines in an article published online on March 3, 2004, in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The article will also be in the March 25, 2004, print edition of NEJM. Human embryonic stem cells have the potential to yield treatments for several devastating human diseases, as well as to enhance understanding of human development. "Studies of embryonic stem cells in several different organisms indicate that these cells have the capacity to give rise to nearly all of the cell types present in an adult organism," Melton said. "The cell lines that we are making available are robust, they grow well and are easy to handle."

In 2001, Harvard University, HHMI and Boston IVF began a collaborative research effort that sought to realize the great therapeutic promise offered by human embryonic stem cells. Melton, Andrew P. McMahon, Chad A. Cowan, the article's lead author, and colleagues at Harvard worked with Douglas Powers and scientists from Boston IVF to produce the supply of human embryonic stem cells. Boston IVF supplied Melton and his colleagues with the excess, pre-implantation frozen embryos from which the stem-cell lines were derived.

Funding for the research and construction of the research facilities in which the stem-cell lines were derived was provided by HHMI, Harva
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Contact: Jim Keeley
keeleyj@hhmi.org
301-215-8858
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
3-Mar-2004


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