UConn Makes Stem Cell Breakthrough

Scientists at the University of Connecticut have developed two new human embryonic stem cell lines and they plan to make them available to researchers around the country who will study the potential of the cells in curing diseases.

The breakthrough came in the UConn Stem Cell Core Lab, where Dr. Ge Lin and his co-workers were able to create the new lines. It is an accomplishment researchers at just a few universities around the country have been able to do. 

"These new lines are much younger than the existing lines and also they add more diversity to the current stem cell line pool," said Dr. Ren-He Xu, the director of the Stem Cell Core Lab.

"This is huge for us because now we have the ability to make new lines at will," said Dr. Marc Lalande, the director of the UConn Stem Cell Institute.

The research was funded as part of the first round of grants in the state's $100 million stem cell research and training program.  Connecticut is one of just three states providing public funding for embryonic and human adult stem cell research. 

In 2001, former President George Bush banned the use of federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research on new stem cell lines. Scientists are hoping President Obama will lift the ban, a move that could clear the way for many more universities and labs to do stem cell research in the future.  For now, the new stem cell lines developed at UConn will go to a limited number of labs that do not use federal funds. 

"The more of us around the country and around the world are working in this area the quicker we can move toward curing diseases with this therapy," said Dr. Lalande.

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