Scientists calculate number of stem cell lines needed for therapeutic bank

December 08, 2005

Scientists have estimated the number of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines that are needed to create a functional therapeutic hESC bank in the UK. They report their findings in this week's issue of The Lancet.

Researchers can develop hESC lines from donated spare embryos that have not been used for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment. Under the right conditions, hESCs can multiply indefinitely while retaining the ability to develop into more than one type of mature cell. The different cells generated from hESC are a promising source for transplantation to replace diseased or damaged tissue in a wide range of conditions such as diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, or cardiovascular disease. However, cells developed in this way will express specific blood group antigens and human leukocyte antigens (HLAs), which can cause graft rejection. If scientists can create a stem cell bank with varying types of HLA hESC the best match could be selected for patients and the likelihood of graft rejection reduced.

Researchers from Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK, investigated how many hESC lines would be needed to make matching possible in most cases. In order to estimate the number needed, the team analysed the blood group and HLA types of 10,000 organ donors for their compatibility to 6577 patients registered on the UK kidney-transplant waiting list. They assumed that the blood groups and the HLA types of the organ donors would be representative of potential donated spare embryos from IVF and that the patients on the waiting list would be indicative of potential hESC recipients. By analysing the degree of mismatch between the two groups they were able to estimate the number of hESC lines that would be needed to provide sufficient HLA diversity for the UK population. They found that 150 blood group compatible donors, 100 blood group O donors, or ten highly selected donors that have the genetic make-up for HLA types common in the recipient population could provide maximum benefit for HLA matching.

Study author Professor Bradley concludes: "The findings from this investigation have practical, political, and ethical implications for the establishment of hES-cell banks." Co-author Professor Pedersen adds: "The identification of such potentially valuable donor HLA identities within the UK population points the way for generating hESC lines with broad clinical utility. Our findings thus emphasise the value of the UK Stem Cell Bank and the importance of the wider UK Stem Cell Initiative." (Quote by e-mail; does not appear in published paper)

In an accompanying Comment, Justin St. John (University of Birmingham, UK) states: "The study, although a simulation of the projected requirements, provides the UK Stem Cell Bank with initial targets for the population of a bank that could meet long term therapeutic objectives through the use of IVF-derived hESCs." Dr. St. John notes that the donor and recipient UK populations studied in the Lancet article are under-representative of Asian and African-Caribbean populations. The study therefore provides an example whereby the clinically most valuable identities could be determined in regions or countries in which those ethnic populations comprise the majority.
Contact: To reach the Cambridge researchers, please contact Corina Hadjiodysseos, Press and Publications Office, The Old Schools, Trinity Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1TN. T) 122-333-9670/ 777-401-7600,

Comment: Jus St. John, PhD, Lecturer in Mitochondrial and Reproductive Genetics, The Medical School, The University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK. T): 44-121-414-8122,


Related Blood Group Articles from Brightsurf:

How Dantu Blood Group protects against malaria - and how all humans could benefit
The secret of how the Dantu genetic blood variant helps to protect against malaria has been revealed for the first time by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the University of Cambridge and the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya.

Malnutrition among a hunter-gatherer group
The diets of hunter-gatherers are changing at a fast pace, as in the contemporary world, they are increasingly being deprived of their access to land and natural resources and urged to adapt to sedentary lifestyle.

Desire to be in a group leads to harsher judgment of others
In a time where political affiliations can feel like they're leading to tribal warfare, a research team from Duke has found that the desire to be part of a group is what makes some of us more likely to discriminate against people outside our groups, even in non-political settings.

Fish school by randomly copying each other, rather than following the group
An international team of researchers has revealed the mechanisms behind fish schooling -- and what they found differs from what scientists had previously thought.

International group of scientists found new regulators of blood supply to the brain
There are approximately as many neuroglia class cells known as astrocytes in the brain as there are neurons, but the function of these cells has long remained a mystery to scientists.

How high levels of blood fat cause inflammation and damage kidneys and blood vessels
Viral and bacterial infections are not the only causes of inflammation of body tissue.

Paleontologists identify new group of pterosaurs
New research suggests that ancient flying reptiles known as pterosaurs were much more diverse than originally thought, according to a new study by an international group of paleontologists including scientists at the University of Alberta and the Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Teaching group work to students with autism
Communication skills and group work could be taught alongside regular curricula and a structured protocol, which promotes communication, can go a long way to help children with ASD to socialize with their peers, thereby aiding their development.

What a group of bizarre-looking bats can tell us about the evolution of mammals
Bats with skulls and teeth adapted to a wide range of diets are helping scientists understand how major groups of mammals first evolved.

New family on the block: A novel group of glycosidic enzymes
A group of researchers from Japan has recently discovered a novel enzyme from a soil fungus.

Read More: Blood Group News and Blood Group Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to