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Archive - Apr 25, 2012

Stem Cell Line from Charcot-Marie-Tooth Embryo Available for Research

The University of Michigan's (U-M's) second human embryonic stem cell line has just been placed on the U.S. National Institutes of Health's registry, making the cells available for federally-funded research. It is the second of the stem cell lines derived at U-M to be placed on the registry. The line, known as UM11-1PGD, was derived from a cluster of about 30 cells removed from a donated five-day-old embryo roughly the size of the period at the end of this sentence. That embryo was created for reproductive purposes, tested, and found to be affected with a genetic disorder, deemed not suitable for implantation, and would therefore have otherwise been discarded when it was donated in 2011. It carries the gene defect responsible for Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, a hereditary neurological disorder characterized by a slowly progressive degeneration of the muscles in the foot, lower leg, and hand. CMT is one of the most common inherited neurological disorders, affecting one in 2,500 people in the United States. People with CMT usually begin to experience symptoms in adolescence or early adulthood. The embryo used to create the cell line was never frozen, but rather was transported from another in vitro fertilization (IVF) laboratory in the state of Michigan to the U-M in a special container. This may mean that these stem cells will have unique characteristics and utilities in understanding CMT disease progression or screening therapies in comparison to other human embryonic stem cells. "We are proud to provide this cell line to the scientific community, in hopes that it may aid the search for new treatments and even a cure for CMT," says Gary Smith, Ph.D., who derived the line and also is co-director of the U-M Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies, part of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute.