New International Stem Cell Program Will Establish Satellite Lab in San Francisco
A satellite lab will be established in San Francisco as part of South Korean researcher Woo Suk Hwang's plan to set up an international stem cell bank to help make the technology available to other scientists, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The World Stem Cell Foundation, introduced today in Seoul and to be based at Seoul National University, hopes to create around 100 new stem cell lines annually and make them available to scientists. Hwang, the first researcher to clone human embryos for the creation of stem cells, also plans to establish a satellite lab in Oxford, England. An article in today's New England Journal of Medicine details the plan (Kaplan, Los Angeles Times, 10/19).
According to the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco lab might be eligible to apply for funding from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the $3 billion state agency established by Proposition 71 to fund stem cell research (Los Angeles Times, 10/19).
Gerald Schatten, a University of Pittsburgh researcher who helped set up the new plan, said that the foundation is seeking $35 million in philanthropic funds to create the program in San Francisco (Gillis, Washington Post, 10/19).
In addition, some work using the stem cells is projected to be done in San Diego with projects at the University of California-San Diego and the Burnham Institute (Lieberman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/19).
The bank "offers the possibility" for U.S. researchers to "sideste[p]" Bush administration restrictions on funding for research involving human embryonic stem cells, according to the Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles Times, 10/19). With Hwang's procedures, researchers can apply to have stem cell lines created to carry various genetic defects that trigger diseases.
The foundation does not plan to patent the new cell lines, but it will charge fees to help fund the research. The Union-Tribune reports that many details still need to be worked out, including:
- How much will be charged for the stem cell lines;
- Whether South Korean expertise will be shared with other scientists; and
- How ethical issues will be addressed (San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/19).
Three technicians trained in Hwang's procedure will visit each satellite lab to perform the cloning. The cells then will be sent to Seoul to be checked, banked and distributed (Wade, New York Times, 10/19).
Hwang said, "When the use of these stem cells is limited to a particular country, it takes much too long to create technologies usable for the whole humanity. By creating a global network, we plan to share stem cells created in each country and share information on those stem cells."
Evan Snyder, stem cell biologist at the Burnham Institute, said, "By overcoming a lot of the technical hurdles, (the Koreans) really have something to offer the international community" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/19).
George Daley, biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology professor at Harvard Medical School, said, "I think U.S. scientists will be lining up to request them" (Los Angeles Times, 10/19).
The NEJM article is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the article.
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Wednesday reported on the consortium. The segment includes comments from:
- Arnold Kriegstein, director of the Institute for Stem Cell and Tissue Biology at the University of California-San Francisco; and
- Shane Smith with the Children's Neurobiological Solutions Foundation (Boyce, "Morning Edition," NPR, 10/19).