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The cell lines have the potential to provide new medical applications for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, diabetes, and muscular dystrophy.
Researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have developed a clinical-grade stem cell line by isolating human umbilical cord blood cells following a healthy birth, and coaxing them back into a pluripotent state. These cell-lines were manufactured by Lonza in Walkersville, Maryland, NIH said in a June 24, 2016 press announcement.
Clinical-grade stem cells are different from the more common laboratory grade cells, NIH explains. Unlike laboratory grade stem cells, clinical-grade stem cells can be used for clinical applications in humans. These cells have the potential to provide new medical applications for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, diabetes, and muscular dystrophy.
Researchers have already made progress with stem cell therapy in mice. In some instances, researchers have been able to reverse diabetic conditions in mice using Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) insulin-producing cells and partially restore limb function in mice with spinal cord injuries. The next step, NIH says, is to translate these studies into humans. By making clinical-grade stem cells available, NIH hopes to speed up the development of new stem cell therapies for patients.
The clinical-grade stem cells, as well as research-grade cells cultured from the same cell line, are available for order and will be stored and distributed by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Laboratory-grade cells can be used for research that lays the foundation for eventual use of clinical-grade cells, such as determining the conditions necessary to guide the iPSCs to become specific cell types like neurons, insulin-producing beta-cells, or heart cells.