Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Lines Now Available from the NIGMS Cell Repository


June 27, 2011

NIGMS Repository iPS cell lines undergo extensive characterization, including assessment of their capacity to differentiate into specialized cell types. The cell shown here was directed to differentiate into a nerve cell. Credit: Coriell Institute for Medical Research

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Human Genetic Cell Repository has launched a new collection of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell lines that carry disease gene mutations. The five lines in the initial set were derived from individuals with Huntington’s disease, juvenile onset diabetes, severe combined immunodeficiency, muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy. The repository is developing more cell lines representing other diseases.

While not derived from embryos, iPS cells offer many of the same scientifically desirable properties as embryonic stem cells. They reproduce indefinitely and have a similar potential to become any of the more than 200 cell types in the body. Using iPS cells, scientists can study normal cell development and examine the effect of one or more disease genes in many different cell types.

“The availability of research resources like the Human Genetic Cell Repository is critical to stimulating biomedical advances,” said Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., director of NIGMS. “Our goal in establishing the iPS cell collection is to encourage scientists to test new ideas or pursue lines of research that would otherwise be much more difficult due to a lack access to a source of well-characterized, disease-specific cells.”

iPS cells are produced by using a set of defined genetic factors to reprogram differentiated cells like skin cells to an embryonic-like state. Researchers are actively examining the mechanisms and stability of the reprogramming process and studying the significance of variations between cell lines.

In addition to their value for research, iPS cells also have the potential to be used therapeutically to generate a supply of cells to replace tissues lost to disease or injury. However, scientists need a much better understanding of the fundamental properties of iPS cells before they could be considered for use in patients. Accordingly, the repository’s iPS lines are for research purposes only, not therapeutic ones.

Like all of the samples in the repository, the iPS cell lines are comprehensively characterized to ensure their identity, stability and purity.

“The Human Genetic Cell Repository is known for the high quality of its materials,” said Judith H. Greenberg, Ph.D., director of the NIGMS Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology and project officer on the repository contract. “The meticulous attention to quality control at all stages of processing and the availability of complete and accurate information about the cell lines and DNA samples is what makes the repository such a valuable resource to the research community.”

NIGMS supports the Human Genetic Cell Repository through a contract to the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden, N.J. Established in 1972, the repository provides human cell lines and DNA for use in genetic and genomic research. The repository now contains more than 10,500 cell lines and its materials are widely used in the United States and abroad.

The repository distributes samples through a Web-based catalog. Each entry includes detailed information about the clinical characteristics of the donor as well as the genetic features of the cell line or DNA sample. All contributions to the repository are stripped of personally identifying information to protect donor privacy.

To access the iPS cell collection for research purposes, see Link to external Web site.

To arrange an interview with Judith H. Greenberg, Ph.D., contact the NIGMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison at 301-496-7301 or