Melton is hopeful that the availability of the new cell lines will speed research developments in the area of stem cell biology. "Consistent with the general practice among academic scientists, these cells are a reagent that will be shared," said Melton. "We hope that sharing these cells will quicken the pace of discovery."
Melton's laboratory will use the stem-cell lines to pursue their interest in type 1 diabetes. His research team has been studying the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells that are missing in patients with type 1 diabetes, which commonly afflicts children. His group's long-term goal is to learn how to direct the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells, so that they can generate pancreatic beta cells that can be used as a therapy for type 1 diabetes.
The availability of the cell lines should provide a boost to stem cell researchers worldwide. According to the National Institutes of Health, there are about 15 human embryonic stem cell lines available for researchers in the United States who are doing federally funded research. The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), an independent, non-profit organization formed to foster the exchange of information about stem cell research, says the number of available human embryonic stem cell lines is a matter of some debate. The ISSCR Web site states that only about 8-10 cell lines in total are currently widely accepted as true human embryonic stem cells.
The techniques used by Melton and his colleagues to derive the human embryonic stem cell lines were based, in part, on technology developed decades ago for mouse embryonic stem cells and more recent work by Ariff Bongso at National University Hospital in Singapore and James A. Thomson and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Melton noted, however, that in the course of their experiments, t
Contact: Jim Keeley
Howard Hughes Medical Institute