Researchers at Roslin Cells Ltd, a spin out company established in 2006 by Roslin Institute, and scientists at The University of Manchester demonstrates that eggs which are incapable of becoming viable embryos can be used as a source for stem cells.
The move could help accelerate the development of regenerative medicine, where there is currently an acute shortage of embryos available for stem cell research.
Speaking at the Annual Meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research in Australia, Dr Paul De Sousa, Principal Investigator at the University of Edinburgh's Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Roslin Cells's Chief Scientific Officer, said: "Typically up to 30% of eggs in an IVF treatment cycle will be unusable as they fail to fertilise or do so abnormally. These eggs could not develop into a viable embryo and are therefore normally discarded in routine IVF treatment.
"Until now, it has been thought that they are also incapable of producing embryonic stem cells. My team at Roslin Cells has been working with colleagues at the Central Manchester and Manchester Children's University Hospitals Trust and The University of Manchester, to develop techniques to stimulate these eggs so that the cells divide and develop.”
“Shortly after this process starts, we are able to extract embryonic stem cells. The new cell line which we have produced in this way, demonstrates that an embryonic stem cells can be produced from tissue which was previously not considered of use to stem cell research," Dr Sousa continued.
Dr Daniel Brison, Scientific Director of the Department of Reproductive Medicine at St Mary's Hospital, Manchester, and who led the Manchester team working on the project, said: "This work may also lead to improvements in IVF technology which will benefit infertile couples in the future."
Funding to support the collaboration between Roslin Cells and the team in Manchester was provided by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC). The cell line will shortly be submitted to the UK Stem Cell Bank, which provides a repository for human stem cell lines of all types and has been developed to supply cell lines for basic research and for the development of clinical applications.