Scientists calculate number of stem cell lines needed for therapeutic bank

Scientists have estimated the number of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines that are needed to create a functional therapeutic hESC bank in the UK. They report their findings in this week's issue of The Lancet.

Researchers can develop hESC lines from donated spare embryos that have not been used for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment. Under the right conditions, hESCs can multiply indefinitely while retaining the ability to develop into more than one type of mature cell. The different cells generated from hESC are a promising source for transplantation to replace diseased or damaged tissue in a wide range of conditions such as diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, or cardiovascular disease. However, cells developed in this way will express specific blood group antigens and human leukocyte antigens (HLAs), which can cause graft rejection. If scientists can create a stem cell bank with varying types of HLA hESC the best match could be selected for patients and the likelihood of graft rejection reduced.

Researchers from Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK, investigated how many hESC lines would be needed to make matching possible in most cases. In order to estimate the number needed, the team analysed the blood group and HLA types of 10,000 organ donors for their compatibility to 6577 patients registered on the UK kidney-transplant waiting list. They assumed that the blood groups and the HLA types of the organ donors would be representative of potential donated spare embryos from IVF and that the patients on the waiting list would be indicative of potential hESC recipients. By analysing the degree of mismatch between the two groups they were able to estimate the number of hESC lines that would be needed to provide sufficient HLA diversity for the UK population. They found that 150 blood group compatible donors, 100 blood group O donors, or ten highly selected donors that have the genetic make-up for HLA types common in the recipient popul

Contact: Joe Santangelo

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