Life Technologies signed a research and license agreement with Harvard University under which the firm has acquired exclusive rights to develop a panel of characterization assays designed to rapidly evaluate human pluripotent stem (hPS) cells for their utility in a variety of discovery and translational research applications. The panel will be offered on the company’s semiconductor sequencing and PCR-based genetic analysis platforms. Life Tech expects this will help overcome hurdles that impede stem cell technology from moving into the clinic.

Standardizing the way researchers characterize induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells will allow them to quickly identify the most promising cell lines and avoid wasting time and resources on cells that do not possess the appropriate characteristics, Life Tech says.

The panel of assays was developed by Alex Meissner, Ph.D., associate professor, department of stem cell and regenerative biology, Harvard University, and is being further studied and validated in collaboration with Life Technologies. Dr. Meissner is the lead author of a study in the journal Cell that identified a range of expression levels among key genes associated with pluripotency. By measuring gene activity in iPS cells against the study’s gene expression range, Dr. Meissner’s lab was able to accurately score cells for their potential to differentiate into particular cell lineages.

“Stem cell research and genomics have rapidly advanced in parallel over the past few years,” says Dr. Meissner. “Combining both fields of study is enabling more effective and standardized ways of characterizing pluripotent cells and, therefore, greatly improving efficiency and the application of iPS cells.”

This is the third major license agreement in the past year for Life Technologies’ Primary and Stem Cell Systems group. In June last year, the company retained the nonexclusive global rights from iPS Academia Japan for its iPS cell patent portfolio, enabling Life Tech to expand its range of products and services. That same month, the company formed a partnership with Cellular Dynamics International to commercialize a set of new products designed to consistently develop and grow human iPS cells.

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