BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - The Roslin Institute is setting up a facility to provide clinical-grade embryonic stem cell lines with no intellectual property rights attached. The not-for-profit center aims to speed up the process of translating stem cell research into treatments, and the cell lines will be available to both companies and academic researchers.

Roslin Cell Center (RCC) will be an important element of Scotland's attempt to build a stem cell hub in the country. It is focussed around a £600 million (US$1.1 billion) translational research institute currently under construction in Edinburgh. RCC will be the first link in the supply chain, producing GMP-grade cells for clinical use.

Initial funding for the RCC of £2 million has come from the development agency Scottish Enterprise. The Roslin Institute, birthplace of Dolly the sheep, has set up Roslin Cells Ltd. to run the RCC and consolidate its expertise in stem cell research.

There are expected to be opportunities to spin technologies out of the RCC and a seed fund, the Genomia Fund, has partnered with Roslin to provide initial finance for technology commercialization.

The RCC, to be run by Paul De Sousa, one of the leading stem cell researchers in the country, will create stem cell lines from donated eggs and embryos. De Sousa established several new embryonic stem cells lines previously, and also was involved in setting up a program in which women having elective sterilization procedures are asked to donate eggs.

"The RCC will make clinically usable stem cell lines available under a range of negotiated terms," De Sousa said. "[That] includes one-off payments without reach through rights. "This approach will provide huge benefits to academics and companies already working in the field or seeking to enter it."

The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service will be involved in the project to ensure the cell lines are produced to GMP standards.

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