Obtaining human stem cell lines

The UK Steering Committee which oversees the activities of the UKSCB and the use of human stem cell lines in the UK approves all successful applications to obtain stem cell lines from the UKSCB. You must submit your application to the UK Steering Committee and not to the UKSCB. Details on application submission and the supporting information which must accompany the application can be found on the application to access form.

Subject to written approval from the UK Steering Committee, applicants will need to sign a legal Agreement. The Bank regrets it is unable to release cells to requestors without copies of the appropriate signed agreements first having been presented to the Bank. Information on which legal agreement is required can be obtained by emailing enquiries@ukstemcellbank.org.uk.

To avoid delays, requestors are advised to review all necessary legal agreements as advised by the UKSCB while their application is being considered by the UK Steering Committee.

How to to access human stem cell lines

These notes are intended as a step by step guide to obtaining human stem cells from the UK Stem Cell Bank.

These notes do not contain information on importing or exporting human embryonic stem cell lines into or out of the UK, or information relating to obtaining human embryonic stem cells from sources other than the Bank, such as direct from UK depositors. Detailed information on these areas, including route maps, is contained in the Code of Practice for the Use of Human Stem Cell Lines. It is assumed that the requestor has completed all necessary steps and received all necessary permissions to embark on the project for which stem cell lines are required. This will include peer review of a project summary and submission of copies of appropriate documentation that may include ethical committee approval of the research, licensing and accreditation by relevant national authorities for the work to be undertaken and for the facilities in which it is conducted.

Step 1: Consult the UKSCB catalogue of stem cell lines

By visiting the relevant sections of the NIBSC website, you will find all stem cell lines currently available and associated costs, cell lines that are due to be made available as well as those that have been received by the Bank.

If the cell lines you require are listed but not yet available, you can enquire about likely availability by emailing the Bank at the address given at the end of these notes. If the cell lines you wish to use do not appear in the catalogue you may wish to wait until they become available through the UKSCB or consider alternative stem cell lines. Equally, you may email the Bank, enquiries@ukstemcellbank.org.uk, to consult associated costs if you consider obtaining multiple cell lines.            

Step 2: Complete the application form.

The application form should be completed and sent to the UK Steering Committee at the address given on the form. This form should not be sent to the Bank.

All enquiries concerning progress with the application should be addressed to the UK Steering Committee Secretariat by emailing stemcellsecretary@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk. It is advisable to contact the named individual at the MRC prior to completing the application form in order to confirm what supporting documentation may be required by the UK Steering Committee.

Step 3: Contact with the Bank

Once your application has been approved by the UK Steering Committee, the Medical Research Council (MRC) Secretariat will notify you through its approval letter. This will be copied to the Bank and you should expect to hear from a member of our team within the following two weeks.

However, in order to minimise delay, it is advisable to contact the bank by emailing enquiries@ukstemcellbank.org.uk even before receiving your letter of approval.

A member of our team will be able to advise you on associated costs, relevant legal agreements, resupply of cell lines and alternative supply of cells where the requested cell line is temporarily not available. Alternatively, you may obtain such information by visiting the relevant sections of the Bank’s website.

Step 4: Complete and sign relevant documents

Subject to approval obtained by the UK Steering Committee, you will be contacted by a member of the UKSCB and you will be presented and asked to sign up to three copies of the relevant documents required for the release of the cell line(s).

Cell lines are currently available from the UKSCB under a Material Access Agreement (MAA) or a Research Use Licence (RUL). You will be advised on which of those legal agreements is required for the cell lines you requested. Additional accompanying forms will need to be filled to ensure invoicing and shipping of the cells.

All those documents named above will be provided by the UKSCB in due course but you can also download them for review from the Bank’s website.

Where an MAA is required, you will be advised of an additional step to follow which involves the owner of the requested cell line. A Material Use License (MUL) must be signed, and the MUL signed copy should be presented to the Bank, before cells can be released to you under the MAA.

The MUL is the agreement between you and the owner/depositor of the stem cell line(s) you have requested. In most cases the owner/depositor will provide a standard agreement for you to sign. Details of who to contact for each cell line is shown in the Stem Cell Catalogue by clicking the name of the requested cell line(s). The MUL may include terms and conditions relating to intellectual property and restrictions on the use to which the cells may be put. You should read this agreement carefully. Any negotiations relating to the MUL should be undertaken with the owner/depositor of the cell line(s), not with the Bank.

Step 5: Release of the cells from the UKSCB

Subject to all documents being completed successfully, you will be contacted by a member of the UKSCB team to arrange shipping of the cells. At this moment, you will also be provided with additional information supporting the culture of each cell line. However, you are encouraged to contact the Bank for further support in growing the cell lines successfully.

Signed documents

Signed documents should be returned to:

The UKSCB Business Manager
UK Stem Cell Bank
NIBSC
Blanche Lane
South Mimms
Potters Bar
Hertfordshire EN6 3QG, UK                                 

Supply of alternative hESC lines

Although we will use our best efforts to supply you with the stem cell lines requested in your application to the Steering Committee, it may not always be possible to do so.  In these cases, in order not to cause you any undue delay, the Bank will offer you suitable alternatives for your research.  

You will not be required to submit a new application to the Steering Committee as the Bank will report any change to them and the Bank will also offer technical support to you in choosing an alternative cell line. We will advise you at the time of your request whether an alternative cell line is necessary or, in any other circumstance where you find that you require an alternative, please notify the Bank as soon as possible after receiving your approval letter from the Steering Committee.