The University of California, San Francisco this week has begun distributing the first of its two human embryonic stem cell lines to academic researchers, increasing the opportunity for scientists around the world to study the therapeutic potential of the cells.
The UCSF cells are being sent to nine academic researchers in the United States and two in England, the total number of scientists who, to date, have completed formal requests to study the cells. The scientists include ten from universities and one from the National Institutes of Health. Approximately 30 additional inquiries from the United States, Europe and Asia have been made to study the cells, but the applications have not yet been submitted. The University expects to receive additional requests for the cells during the next year.
The hope is that studies on the basic biology of human embryonic stem cells will provide insights that could lead to the use of these cells in cell-transplantation therapy, to treat such diseases as diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.
UCSF is one of only two academic institutions in the United States that produced human embryonic cells lines that qualified for inclusion on the National Institutes of Health Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry http://escr.nih.gov/, established by President George Bush in August 2001. The cell lines included on the registry can be studied by academic researchers with federal funds.
The studies that led to the development of the two stem cell lines were conducted with funding from Geron Corporation, a biotechnology company in Menlo Park, California, with a matching grant from BioSTAR, a University of California program that forges partnerships among University of California scientists and businesses.