Consensus guidance for banking and supply of human embryonic stem cell lines for research purposes


In just a few years hundreds of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines have been established in laboratories around the world and many programmes of research initiated to investigate their properties and broad ranging potential in therapy and for other research applications, such as developmental biology, toxicology and drug discovery. This work is being performed with a variety of cell lines using a variety of culture conditions; a situation that makes standardisation between projects and publications very difficult and could prevent the identification of cells that have undergone permanent deleterious changes. Clearly the consequence of using such cells would be wasted time and resources but, more seriously, the generation of erroneous data in the literature which could both confuse and delay scientific progress in this area. Thus ensuring that cell lines used in this dynamic field have the correct identity and characteristics is critical to the delivery of effective and efficient research of acceptable quality. Many centres now distribute hESC lines around the world but the preparation and testing of cell stocks released to other researchers is generally based on local ‘norms’ and naturally varies from centre to centre. The challenge of preparing satisfactory cells for use in research work has been recognised and guidance has been developed by international groups on good cell culture practice [1] and cell banking [2, 3]. In response to the lack of formal coordination between the active distributing centres from different countries the International Stem Cell Forum, a group of national and international stem cell research funding bodies, has funded this initiative, the International Stem Cell Banking Initiative (ISCBI), to establish a dialogue between the distribution centres to develop a consensus on the principles of best practice for the banking, testing and distribution of hESC [4, 5] cells. Due to local conditions and procedures some distributors of hESCs may not address all items as described in this guidance. However, where this occurs the distributor in question must be able to justify their position. The first meeting of this group was held at the Jackson Laboratory (Maine, USA) in October 2007 and this guidance document represents the first output from the ISCBI. The document has been prepared from the perspective of hESC culture but, in many respects, is broadly applicable to all human stem cell lines including induced pluripotent stem cell lines.

Authors International Stem Cell Banking Initiative
Journal Stem cell reviews and reports
Publication Date 2009 Dec;5(4):301-14
PubMed 20016957
DOI 10.1007/s12015-009-9085-x

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