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Scripps, German Institutions to Collaborate on Genomic Analysis of Human IPSCs

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The Scripps Research Institute and Germany's Center for Integrated Psychiatry Kiel (ZIP) and Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) announced on Thursday a partnership and $3.6 million in funding to improve the quality control of human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines.

The partners will collaborate on developing new genomics-based methods of analyzing the stem cells. Scripps will receive a $1.8 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and the German partners will receive matching funds from the German Ministry of Education and Research.

"Quality control is our major goal," Scripps professor Jeanne Loring said in a statement. "We must ensure that the neurons and other cells derived from iPSCs for clinical use and drug discovery are the ideal cell type for the application."

Leveraging a tool called PluriTest developed at Scripps, the researchers plan to take the next technological step, next-generation sequencing, "in order to close gaps in stem cell quality control," ZIP scientist Franz-Josef Müller, the coordinator of the German contribution of the project, said in a statement. "In contrast to previous microarray-based technology, we can now see every gene that is expressed in the cell in much more detail. This allows us to draw even more extensive and reliable conclusions on pluripotency, validity of our in vitro models, and patient safety."

Loring added that the project could have applications in drug development.

Last month, CIRM partnered with the Coriell Institute and Cellular Dynamics to launch the world's largest human pluripotent stem cell repository, issuing grants totaling $26 million.