Experts in the emerging field of iPSC banking urge action on several fronts to ensure that iPSCs realize their full potential for improved drug screening, disease modeling, and medical treatments. Using the October 3 issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell as a platform, these experts focused on practical, organizational issues, citing the importance of 1) sharing and distributing cell lines, 2) instituting quality control procedures, and 3) ensuring immune matching between iPSC donors and recipients.

Taken together, these actions could hasten progress toward a common goal: making large panels of patient-specific iPSC lines broadly accessible to the stem cell community. Such panels would be most useful, explained the experts, if they reflected the diversity of the human population and included samples from patients with a wide range of diseases.

In one editorial (“iPSC Crowdsourcing: A Model for Obtaining Large Panels of Stem Cell Lines for Screening”), Dr. Mahendra Rao, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the NIH, explained that making iPSC lines and developing the requisite controls and tests is time consuming, expensive, and generally beyond the expertise of any single laboratory. “Fulfilling the expectations for iPSCs and their use will only be possible if we develop a new cost-effective way to share and distribute cell lines. Crowd sourcing is one solution,” Dr. Rao said.

In another editorial (“Banking Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells: Lessons Learned from Embryonic Stem Cells?”), a team of experts said that quality control could be enhanced in iPSC resource centers if such centers applied the knowledge of existing, well-established human embryonic stem cell banks and their experience in standardization.

This team was led by Glyn Stacey, Ph.D., of the U.K.’s National Institute for Biological Standards and Control. According to Dr. Stacey, “Not all laboratories will have the same level of expertise in cell culture or familiarity with vital quality control procedures. These will be essential to avoid the circulation of iPSC lines that have become contaminated or switched with other cell lines.”

Finally, an editorial explained that the ability to preselect the donor genotype of iPSC lines would enhance immune matching in cell therapy. In this editorial (“Towards The Development of a Global Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Library”), the authors maintained that deriving iPSC lines on an individual basis would be impractical for large-scale efforts, and that iPSC banks instead should rely on lines from a small pool of individuals.

This group of authors was led by Ian Wilmut, FRS, FRSE, chair of the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. According to Dr. Wilmut, “Calculations suggest that cells from approximately 150 selected people would provide a useful immunological match for the majority of people,” explained Dr. Wilmut.

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