Banks of adult stem cells for regenerative medicine of tomorrow

Publié le : 20 September 2013

 The French company, Cellectis, an industrial group specialising in genome engineering and stem cells has just launched "Scéil", a service that allows the general public to store induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) generated from adult skin stem cells. The aim? "To benefit as much as possible from future regenerative medicine treatments as soon as these become available". This unprecedented facility announced by Cellectis on 8 July 2013, is available in Switzerland, Dubai, Singapore and the United States. It involves the collection of skin samples from participating subjects. These samples can then be used to obtain iPS cells according to the technique devised by Professor Shinya Yamanaka, the 2012 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Medicine (Gènéthique press review on October 8th, 2012). This technique provides these subjects with pluripotent cells (which can produce tissue for any part of the body) from their own cells in order to repair damaged organs or tissues and avoid the risk of rejection. A surge in regenerative medicine should be anticipated over the next five years according to André Choulika, Chairman and Managing Director of Cellectis.     

The benefits of the Cellectis approach lie in the collection of cells at "an early, healthy stage" in order to obtain "optimal stem cells". This service is not free of charge but costs 60,000 dollars and an annual fee of 500 dollars from the third year of storage onwards. These high costs are justified by "the complex process" involved, explained André Choulika: "The stem cells are stored in liquid nitrogen at -180° celsius in three banks […] located in Singapore, Dubai and Switzerland". Three venues in different parts of the world have been selected to safeguard against "earth tremors or other unforeseen problems". 
"We are proud to be the first company in the world to make this major scientific advance, i.e. iPS technology, available to the general public. Scéil represents a real financial opportunity and is an intrinsic part of extensive future programmes anticipated in the regenerative medicine sector,” explains André Choulika. He also emphasised the ethical approach to this service which, unlike the use of embryonic stem cells, does not raise ethical issues, "The cells obtained […] are not embryonic cells – they simply resemble embryonic stem cells".

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