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WiCell to Distribute Human Stem Cell Lines from NHLBI Studies

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – WiCell today announced that the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has designated it to distribute human pluripotent stem cell lines created as part of the institute's Next Generation Genetic Association Studies (Next Gen). 

Next Gen is a five-year, $80 million program to investigate cellular profiles that are surrogates for disease phenotypes in order to learn about functional genetic variation in humans. To achieve this, researchers from various institutions were awarded grants to derive induced pluripotent stem cell lines from more than 1,500 individuals for functional genomic research. 

The institutions include Boston University; Harvard University; the University of Pennsylvania; Johns Hopkins University; Stanford University; the University of California, San Diego; and Scripps Research Institute. The individuals from whom the iPS cell lines were derived represent a number of conditions, such as ventricular hypertrophy, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary hypertension, diabetes, sickle cell disease, and other conditions. 

IPS cell lines were also derived from healthy controls including some participants in the Framingham Heart Study. 

WiCell will store and distribute the cell lines. Upon receipt from the depositing institutions, the Madison, Wisconsin-based non-profit will make the cell lines available to researchers. Genotype, phenotype, and clinical data available for each cell line's donor will be available through the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Biotechnology Information's dbGAP. They will also be linked to each cell line on WiCell's website. 

All cell lines will be tested for mycoplasma and sterility before distribution,WiCell said, adding their karyotype and identity will be confirmed. 

"The NIH is committed to ensuring that the scientific community benefits from the many valuable cell lines created through the Next Generation Association Studies," Robert Drape, executive director of WiCell, said in a statement. "WiCell's distribution of these cell lines will ensure that they are easily accessible and that high-quality cell lines are available to the research community around the world." 

Cashell Jaquish, program director of the Next Gen Consortium, added that the availability of the cells is expected to increase functional genomics research using human cells derived from well-characterized donors. "Ultimately, discoveries using these cells will contribute to improvements in the prevention and treatment of common heart, lung and blood disorders," he said.