BioWorld International Correspondent

The European Union is creating a European registry providing comprehensive information about all human embryonic stem cell lines in Europe.

The registry is expected to boost coordination and rationalization of human embryonic stem cell research in Europe. It is intended as a platform to maximize reproducibility, comparability and transparency in the field. EU funding of €1 million (US$1.3 million) is being provided for the three years envisioned for the project.

It will be operated jointly by Anna Veiga from the Stem Cell Bank of the Centre of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona (one of the Spanish research centers approved to carry out research with donated frozen human embryos and human embryonic stem cells), and Joeri Borstlap from the CellNet initiative at Berlin-Brandenburg Centre for Regenerative Therapies in Berlin, which has recently received substantial financial support from the German government to develop an internationally visible center of excellence in regenerative medicine.

Other partners include Glyn Stacey, director of the UK Stem Cell Bank, at the UK National Institute of Biological Standards and Control.

"The EU is 100 percent committed to the highest possible standards of ethics in regard to its research program, and this includes the use of human embryonic stem cells. We have a strict and transparent environment for their use in place in our program," said European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik. "This registry plays an important part, making the most effective use of existing stem cell lines and avoiding the unnecessary creation of new ones. It will also be useful in the creation of common international standardization for the characterization of these stem cells, essential for progress toward new cures and therapies."

At present, the EU is funding slightly more than 100 projects that involve at least one component of stem cell research, with a total contribution of about €500 million. A quarter of the projects involve human embryonic stem cells.