Stem Cell Lines with Genetic Disorders Could Benefit Research

Article excerpt

BOSTON -- A private fertility clinic in Chicago has created the first embryonic stem cell lines with genes for muscular dystrophy and other inherited disorders, according to posters presented at a meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

Scientists from the Reproductive Genetics Institute (RGI) announced the development of 62 new cell lines from embryos donated by patients at the clinic, which screens embryos for genetic disorders.

The new cache includes 13 lines from embryos that were not used for in vitro fertilization because they carried genetic diseases.

The list of diseases included in the cell lines was characterized as the start of what could become a much larger trove of cell lines with genetic defects. So far, the disorders include female fragile X syndrome (carrier), Fanconi anemia A, 1 bp deletion (carrier), neurofibromatosis type 1 (five cell lines), myotonic dystrophy (two cell lines), Marfan syndrome, [beta]-globin mutation IVS 1-1 (carrier), [beta]-thalassemia, and Becker muscular dystrophy.

Nikolai Strelchenko, Ph.D., senior embryology researcher at RGI, predicted that the embryonic stem cell lines would benefit medical research into diseases that have been studied mainly in mouse models.

"Mice is mice, and human is human," said Dr. Strelchenko, a Russian-born somatic cell geneticist.

"You have a permanent cell line, an immortal cell line," he said of the opportunity for researchers. "You can turn it into any different tissue and find a pathway to relieve suffering--to discover new drugs, new approaches," Dr. Strelchenko explained. …