Science/Medicine
10:39 am
Mon April 4, 2011

U of M develops new embryonic stem cell lines for medical research

The University of Michigan has announced it has created new embryonic stem cell lines for medical research.  Developing its own stem cell lines has been an important goal of the university’s stem cell research center since its inception two years. 

In a written statement, Gary Smith, co-director of the U-M Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies and leader of the cell-line derivation project, talked about the importance of this milestone for the consortium:

"All our efforts are finally starting to bear fruit...Creating disease-specific human embryonic stem cell lines has been a central goal of the consortium since it was formed two years ago, and now we've passed that milestone." 

The stem cell lines carry genes responsible for a type of hemophilia and a neurological disorder. In the future, researchers at the University of Michigan hope to develop additional stem cell lines that will help with research into Huntington's disease,  spinal muscular atrophy and Tay-Sachs.

Dr. Eva Feldman, director of the U-M's A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute, says developing these new embryonic stem cell lines put U of M in the forefront of stem cell research. 

"We will be one of the few institutions in the country to be creating embryonic stem cell lines targeted at understanding and treating specific inherited diseases...These stem cell lines hold so much promise for medical science, and for this reason, they will be of tremendous interest to researchers around the world."

The university is using stem cells from embryos donated for medical research as allowed by state law. In 2008, Michigan voters approved a constitutional amendment which opened the door for embryonic stem cell research.