Catalyst - Summer 2009 - Coriell Restructures Stem Cell Activities, Incorporates Latest Technology

Catalyst Summer 2009

The Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden recently consolidated its non-embryonic stem cell biobanking activities into one repository laboratory: the Coriell Stem Cell Biobank. This facility, directed by Margaret Keller, Ph.D., processes umbilical cord blood and fat tissue to obtain stem cells for biobanking. A large effort is currently underway to add induced pluripotent stem cells to the Biobank's repertoire.

"The discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, is exciting, as this technology allows researchers to study disease mechanisms by using cells derived from individuals with various genetic disorders such as Parkinson's disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and cystic fibrosis," said Dr. Keller. "This is one of the driving factors behind the Institute's push to incorporate iPS cells into the Biobank's repertoire." 

Similarly, when adult stem cells (top) were stimulated with nutrients which trigger the cells to become fat cells (bottom), the accumulating lipids, or fat, can be seen with a red dye. 



Coriell has processed hundreds of umbilical cord blood specimens since it established its cord blood stem cell biorepository in 2006, now a component of the newly formed Stem Cell Biobank.

Umbilical cord blood is a source of two types of cells: hematopoietic progenitor cells and mesenchymal stromal cells. In the Stem Cell Biobank, researchers use umbilical cord blood to obtain both types of cells. These cell types are also found in locations such as bone marrow and peripheral (circulating) blood. Although bone marrow is a well-studied source of these cells, the ability to obtain them from umbilical cord blood offers distinct advantages, including ease of attainment.

The availability of these cell types for use in scientific research is critical to furthering the understanding of this field and the potential benefits stem cells may have in the future of medicine. Induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) Cells Recent reports of the "reversion" of adult cells into a state similar to embryonic stem cells mark a revolutionary breakthrough in stem cell research. These cells are created from skin biopsies and are programmed to act like embryonic stem cells – but there is no embryo involved in their formation.

iPS cells retain the ability to become many different types of cells. Thus, researchers now have the opportunity to study what controls the critical properties of stem cells and what controls their transformation into specialized cell types. This information will lead to a basic biological understanding of how cells grow and develop and will advance the current understanding of therapeutic applications of stem cells for regenerative medicine.

Michael F. Christman, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Coriell Institute for Medical Research, said the goal of the Coriell Stem Cell Biobank is to develop best practices in stem cell research and for the large-scale distribution of iPS cells. "This entails the creation and optimization of standard operating procedures to ensure distribution of the highest quality cells."

A limited number of research laboratories have reported isolating iPS cells, yet the demand for broad access to this type of biomaterial is growing rapidly. Coriell, the world's leading biobank with highly skilled laboratory staff, is well-positioned to meet the growing demand for stem cell biomaterials.

EisnerAmper's Catalyst: Summer 2009

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