Projects aim to promote collaborations to construct a map of every cell type of developing mice and humans.
Embryome Sciences, a subsidiary of BioTime, launched The International Embryome Initiative (IEI) and an online database called Embryome.com. The latter reportedly will allow researchers to collaboratively construct a precise map of every cell type in developing mice and humans.
The company proposes that such a detailed map with precise, standard nomenclature for every cell type along with molecular markers such as CD antigens will prove to be an essential component in regenerative medicine.
The database is initially populated with approximately 2,000 distinct cell types. “The goal of the initiative is to ultimately map the entire human embryome,” says Michael D. West, Ph.D., CEO at BioTime. The company expects to have the human-development tree online before year’s end, he adds.
“Given the complexity of the thousands of cell types and the lack of reliable molecular markers,” remarks Dr. West, “the regenerative medicine field desperately needs a detailed map of all the cell types and their markers to avoid contamination issues surrounding the use of stem cells.”
To give a sense of this complexity, Dr. West notes that there are 50 cell types in the human retina alone. The databases will contain detailed maps of and information about mouse and human cell lineages and unique molecular markers for mouse and human embryonic progenitor cell lineages. The database originally was constructed for internal use before the company made the decision to offer it to the research community at large.
“Scientists will be able to submit data and dialogue online about cell lineage derivation,” Dr. West continues. “It will be a gathering point for scientists to work out future disputes and technologies.”
The company is putting together an international editorial board that will make certain that the information placed in the database is valid. The website will provide an embryome identification number for each cell type, according to Dr. West.
BioTime plans to make money from the website and database by using the map of the embryome to market the cell lines produced by the company by shotgun cloning hES cell derivatives, their media, and related reagents.
“In other words, once researchers are using the database and are, for instance, looking at cranial neural crest cells, we will show them links to buy the purified cells, media, and so on, available either from us or other research product companies,” says Dr. West. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine reportedly has purchased a subscription for all researchers residing in the State of California.