The core role of the UK Stem Cell Bank (UKSCB) is to supply ethically sourced and quality-controlled human stem cell lines for research and therapy. Alongside this we also have a dynamic research and technical development programme and have secured grant funding from national and international bodies.
Under the Code of Practice for the use of Human Stem Cell Lines (2010) and in line with MHRA policy we do not conduct discovery research on stem cell lines deposited in the Bank. This is so we avoid research in basic stem cell biology and ‘near-market’ commercial research which could cause conflicts of interest.
The UKSCB has secured grant funding of more than £15 million since 2011. This comes from several sources which facilitate active research partnerships with both academic groups and commercial organisations. We can provide a generic work-package for those seeking collaborations with the Bank.
Our ongoing research portfolio is summarised below:
Our cell banking and characterisation must accommodate the rapidly evolving and dynamic field of stem cell research. To support our banking mission our research takes the form of technical development and is targeted at the optimisation of cell culture and characterisation procedures.
The aim is to deliver robust, reproducible, reliable processes for cell banking where the cells are of a high quality and are unchanged by the banking process.
The areas of research include:
This is a continuation of previous projects funded by the International Stem Cell Forum.
The project’s aim is to test the hypothesis that an in vitro, controlled assay is predictive of an in vivo teratoma assay result, currently used as the ‘gold standard’, for the assessment of pluripotency of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). If so, it could be used as a surrogate assay for assessing pluripotency in large numbers of stem cell isolates and in routine experimental research work to reduce the use of animals and enable routine confirmation of the potential pluripotency of cells, to give greater confidence in stem cell research data.
This will be assessed by a comparison of:
Once these protocols have been shown to be fit for purpose they will be incorporated into the routine workflow of the UKSCB as part of the characterisation of the PSC lines. Results of the project should be available in late 2017.
The UKSCB has taken part in two previous phases of the ISCI work (ISCI-1 and ISCI-2), which have carried out standardised research in the characterisation, culture and genetic stability of hPSCs. UKSCB is one of 4 international hub labs testing the protocols for robustness, reliability and reproducibility before the project is expanded to other international laboratories.
The EBiSC project is an Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking.It was designed to address the increasing demand by induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) researchers for quality-controlled, disease-relevant, research-grade iPSC lines, data and cell services.
The UK Stem Cell Bank’s role is to lead the training work package. This will provide a programme of formal theoretical and practical training that will contribute to standardisation of iPSC-related methodologies and promote quality standards within and outside the consortium.
Disseminating EBiSC standards and skills will help deliver high quality, cost-effective and rapid scientific characterisation of banked iPSC lines.
As well as taking a lead role in the two work packages, UKSCB will also play a key advisory role on:
The European Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Registry (hPSCreg) project is a freely accessible global registry for hPSC-lines which allows searching for cell lines and any associated cell line information. New cell lines are encouraged to be registered and the existing database is routinely updated as more information becomes available.
The aim is to promote access to ethically-sourced hPSC lines and provide transparency about their characteristics and origin. This will provide baseline data to improve the efficiency of research, increase reproducibility and avoid repetition of research or unnecessary derivation of new lines.
The UK Stem Cell Bank (UKSCB) has been involved from the beginning of the project in 2006 and has been a key partner in establishing the registry. To date the UKSCB’s role has been to develop robust standard operating procedures under a code of practice for the operation of the database.
As the project moves into its third phase, it seeks to develop its capability to validate clinical grade hPSC lines and incorporate a registry of clinical trials.
The PSCP aims to lay foundations for a generic translational pipeline from the derivation of clinical grade pluripotent stem cells to potential cell therapies. The Hub will build upon emerging technologies to optimise processes for consistent, scalable stem cell manufacturing that minimize the appearance of genetic and epigenetic variants, and meet the requirements of clinicians, regulatory authorities and industry for safe and cost-effective applications.
The UK Stem Cell Bank’s director, Glyn Stacey, sits on the executive board of the research team for this project.