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Lines of life; Stem cell bank launched at UMass.

Byline: Lisa Eckelbecker

SHREWSBURY - It takes a few seconds to get a glimpse of the precious cargo Precious Cargo is the 37th episode (production #211) of the television series . Synopsis
While answering a distress call, Trip is kidnapped along with a spoiled and beautiful alien princess.
 loaded into the laboratory cooler that Dr. Gary Stein Gary Stein is a Sports Marketing Sales Manager / Sportscaster currently living in Baltimore, Maryland. He works for CBS Radio, Orioles Radio and Terrapin Sports Radio in Baltimore, where he also sells radio advertising.  opens, mostly because of the frosty frost·y  
adj. frost·i·er, frost·i·est
1. Producing or characterized by frost; freezing. See Synonyms at cold.

2. Covered with or as if with frost.

3. Silvery white; hoary.

 fog that billows out.

Then the air clears, and boxes of samples come into view: human embryonic stem cells Embryonic stem cells (ES cells) are stem cells derived from the inner cell mass of an early stage embryo known as a blastocyst. Human embryos reach the blastocyst stage 4-5 days post fertilization, at which time they consist of 50-150 cells.

ES cells are pluripotent.

It's the initial inventory for the new UMass Stem Cell stem cell

In living organisms, an undifferentiated cell that can produce other cells that eventually make up specialized tissues and organs. There are two major types of stem cells, embryonic and adult.
 Bank, a repository that organizers hope will come to hold more than 100 types of stem cells stem cells, unspecialized human or animal cells that can produce mature specialized body cells and at the same time replicate themselves. Embryonic stem cells are derived from a blastocyst (the blastula typical of placental mammals; see embryo), which is very young . Launched with a $7.7 million state grant, the bank is an early sign of Gov. Deval L. Patrick's push to invest $1 billion in the life sciences in Massachusetts over 10 years to promote the state's economy. Starting Wednesday, the bank will begin accepting embryonic stem cell "deposits," the first step in eventually making cells available to researchers.

Officials say the bank will prove useful because it will do more than store and distribute cells.

"It's not just a matter of receiving a cell line and carrying out an investigation on the material," said Dr. Stein, interim director of the UMass Program in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative re·gen·er·a·tive  
1. Of, relating to, or marked by regeneration.

2. Tending to regenerate.

 Medicine. "These cells have very specific requirements to be able to go ahead and maintain so they have potential, which is the hallmark of a stem cell. We not only provide the cells to investigators, we provide training on how to grow them."

The UMass bank, with the ambition to be an international repository, is part of an operation that includes a stem cell registry, an online collection of information about known stem cell lines A stem cell line is a family of constantly-dividing cells, the product of a single parent group of stem cells. They are obtained from human or animal tissues and can replicate for long periods of time in vitro ("within glass"; or, commonly, "in the lab", in an artificial  around the world. Yet the bank will not be the only entity seeking to serve stem cell researchers.

The National Stem Cell Bank in Wisconsin holds 21 stem cell lines approved for research projects funded with federal money. WiCell Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin is developing a stem cell bank and exploring the creation of "clinical" grade quantities of stem cells suitable for medical products. Some companies distribute stem cell lines. So does the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. The United Kingdom is developing a stem cell bank, and a Japanese researcher has raised the idea of a bank in Japan.

Erik Forsberg, WiCell executive director, said he was not familiar with the UMass bank but that WiCell is willing to work with anyone interested in getting a bank of cells available to scientists.

"The more banks that are available that focus on certain types of cells, and maybe even have some redundancy for safety purposes, is a good thing," he said.

The objective of the UMass stem cell bank is to spur research and economic growth in the state, said Dr. Terence R. Flotte, dean of UMass Medical School.

"Our highest goal is to accelerate the pace of the generation of new treatments for previously incurable diseases The following is a list of debilitating diseases for which medical science has no cure as of yet. This list is incomplete.
  • Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia
  • Acute Myeloid Leukemia
  • Acquired Immune Defficiency Syndrome (AIDS) see also HIV
  • Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD)
," Dr. Flotte said. "We think that a ready access to high-quality stem cells will accelerate that, and accelerate our ability as a whole to help people."

Embryonic stem cells are the body's master cells. They can divide for long periods of time, filling a lab dish with clumps clump  
1. A clustered mass; a lump: clumps of soil.

2. A thick grouping, as of trees or bushes.

3. A heavy dull sound; a thud.

 of more embryonic stem cells. They can also differentiate into specialized cells, such as cells for the body's blood system.

Some researchers think embryonic stem cells have the potential to answer questions about human health and treat disease. The cells have been controversial, however, because researchers have typically plucked pluck  
v. plucked, pluck·ing, plucks
1. To remove or detach by grasping and pulling abruptly with the fingers; pick: pluck a flower; pluck feathers from a chicken.
 them out of early-stage embryos in a process that destroys the embryos.

In 2001, President Bush limited federally funded research on embryonic stem cells to certain "lines" of cells that were in existence at that time. Yet since his decision, researchers around the world have used money from foundations and corporations to create many more embryonic stem cell lines.

Most recently, researchers have used skin cells in laboratories to generate "induced pluripotent stem cells Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells[1], commonly abbreviated as iPS Cells, are a type of stem cells.

This is a generic term for any non-pluripotent stem cell induced by some means, normally genetic, to express certain proteins that appear to resemble pluripotent
," or iPS cells, that have the qualities of stem cells. These cells may be especially valuable in illustrating the mechanisms at work in diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson's disease Parkinson's disease or Parkinsonism, degenerative brain disorder first described by the English surgeon James Parkinson in 1817. When there is no known cause, the disease usually appears after age 40 and is referred to as Parkinson's disease. .

Massachusetts is the biggest producer of embryonic stem cells in the world, yet keeping the cells going requires expertise and labor-intensive work, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Dr. Leonard I. Zon, director of the Children's Hospital A children's hospital is a hospital which offers its services exclusively to children. The number of children's hospitals proliferated in the 20th century, as pediatric medical and surgical specialties separated from internal medicine and adult surgical specialties.  Stem Cell Program in Boston. The UMass bank could take over that work from researchers, he said.

"I think this takes a lot of the burden off an individual lab," Dr. Zon said. It could leave scientists free "to focus more on your science. I think that's going to be very, very helpful," he said.

The UMass bank fits naturally with Worcester's colleges and universities and with the medical school's new advanced therapeutics cluster focused on medical technologies and treatments, according to Dr. Robert P. Lanza, chief scientific officer of Worcester-based Advanced Cell Technology Inc., a small stem cell company that will make all its stem cell lines available to the UMass bank.

"I think this is a seminal step for the university," Dr. Lanza said in an e-mail. "It launches the medical school - and the city - into a new era. This will be the most extensive stem cell repository in the country, and should help attract jobs and talent to the region."

The UMass bank and stem cell registry exist at the medical school's Shrewsbury campus, a collection of buildings once used by the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research The Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research (WFBR) is a non-profit biomedical research institute based in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

The foundation was established as an independent research center under the name
, which is now part of UMass. Funding from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the entity overseeing the state's life sciences initiative, helped renovate and equip a building housing the stem cell bank.

A UMass life sciences task force has reported that the medical school will seek $6 million in additional funding for stem cell bank and registry operations in their second and third years.

A staff of about 10 will take in stem cells, confirm their characteristics, grow them, freeze them and send them out to laboratories for use in research. The UMass bank is not set up to supply stem cells for manufacture into medical products.

A quirk quirk  
1. A peculiarity of behavior; an idiosyncrasy: "Every man had his own quirks and twists" Harriet Beecher Stowe.

 of the stem cell bank is that just about everything comes in twos. One set of labs and equipment will be used for the "presidential lines," the stem cell lines approved by the Bush administration for federally funded research. The second set of labs and equipment will be available for cell lines created outside federal restrictions.

"We have duplicates of everything," Dr. Stein told journalists recently during a tour of the center.

In an interview, Dr. Stein said the UMass bank has been preparing for its opening by working with two stem cell lines. He said the bank will hold presidential lines and lines generated at Harvard University Harvard University, mainly at Cambridge, Mass., including Harvard College, the oldest American college. Harvard College

Harvard College, originally for men, was founded in 1636 with a grant from the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
. The bank expects to hold newer iPS lines as well as lines created through traditional methods.

If successful, the bank could ultimately hold many cell lines.

About 20 to 30 specific cell lines could prove to be most popular with researchers, but a valuable bank would benefit from having enough lines to reflect the population and different diseases, according to Dr. Zon of Children's Hospital.


CUTLINE: (1) In a staged demonstration, Research Associate Alicia Allaire, left, and Lab Manager Meng-Jiao Shi showcase frozen trays that will soon hold human embryonic stem cells. The trays are kept at a temperature of minus 170 degrees Celsius at the UMass Human Embryonic Stem Cell Bank in Shrewsbury. (2) Dr. Gary Stein, interim director of the UMass Program in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.

PHOTOG pho·tog  
n. Informal
A person who takes photographs, especially as a profession; a photographer.
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Title Annotation:BUSINESS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Sep 28, 2008
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