ST. PAUL, Minn. – Biotechnology company BioE announced in May that it would make commercially available stem cell lines cloned from human umbilical cord blood rather than obtained from human embryos. The company is reportedly the first firm to come to market with such lines, which it refers to as Multi-Lineage Progenitor Cells (MLPCs).
This announcement was made in conjunction with the 11th annual meeting of the International Society of Cellular Therapy held May 4-7 in Vancouver, British Columbia, where BioE presented data on its MLPCs.
The stem cells used for the clonal lines were discovered by BioE in postpartum human umbilical cord blood, and provide a new, viable platform for stem cell research free from the public and political controversy surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells, the company reports. During the past two years, scientists at BioE have successfully differentiated the cloned MLPCs into tissues representative of the three germinal layers, including neural stem cells, nerve cells, liver/pancreas precursors, skeletal muscle, fat cells, bone cells and blood vessels.
"The first customers we're targeting with these stem cell lines are the researchers at various medical institutions, particularly those in the United States," says Michael Haider, BioE's chief executive officer. "There are more than 4,400 stem cell research studies that were funded through NIH grants just in 2005."
The next group BioE plans to reach after that are the biotechnology and medical companies doing research in the area of stem cells for therapeutic delivery systems. The third group of potential customers will be the drug and pharmaceutical industry, where stem cells could become important tools in drug discovery and drug toxicology, as well as other forms of testing for safety and efficacy.
"We have been working with BioE for two years on a number of projects, and it is one of the few companies developing protocols for the use of umbilical cord blood that accelerate our work towards finding clinical-grade therapies in hematology and tissue engineering research," says Dr. Colin McGuckin, director of the Stem Cell Therapy Program and reader in Stem Cell Biology and Tissue Engineering at Kingston Univer-sity in London.