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Technique for Creating Authentic Rat Embryonic Stem Cells Published in Cell

December 29, 2008

CAMBRIDGE, England, December 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ –

– Technology Licensed Exclusively by Stem Cell Sciences

– (“Stem Cell Sciences”, “SCS”, “the Company”)

Stem Cell Sciences plc (AIM:STEM, ASX:STC) is pleased to announce that
pioneering research describing a technique for creating authentic embryonic
stem (ES) cells from rats has been published in the prestigious peer-reviewed
journal, Cell (Ref. 1). This publication is believed to be the first in which
germ-line transmission from rat ES cells has been definitively demonstrated.
It uses technology licensed exclusively to SCS from the University of
Edinburgh
and developed by Professor Austin Smith and his team, now at
Cambridge University. The technique is expected to allow the generation of
consistently pure and stable rat ES cells, from which drug discovery assays
as well as genetically modified animals can be created for academic, medical
and pharmaceutical research.

The rat has been a hugely important organism in medical research and drug
discovery over the past 100 years, during which time a large body of
information on rat models of disease has been generated. Physiological
processes and metabolic functions in the rat more closely mimic those of the
human than do other model organisms such as the mouse and as a result the rat
is regarded as the gold standard for studying the effects of drugs in the
body. However, further studies such as defining drug action or the genetic
basis of disease using rats have been hindered by the lack of sophisticated,
precision genetic engineering, such as that achievable via ES cells in mice.
Such barriers have now been overcome; by applying specific cell culture
conditions, authentic rat ES cells can be made which can be precision
engineered and then used to generate a completely novel range of rat models.

The main advantage afforded by this technology is that it allows the
generation of both knock-out rat models, in which the effect of gene deletion
is studied, as well as the generation of knock-in models, which involves the
insertion of genes, perhaps human genes, in a precisely defined manner. For
example, in the case of knock-out models, a lack of response or different
response profile to drugs compared with non-engineered animals can provide
information on drug efficacy. Alternatively, the insertion of genes such as
those involved in drug metabolism in the human liver means that knock-in
models can provide information on drug safety & metabolism. Under the terms
of its agreement with Edinburgh University, SCS has global exclusive rights
to commercialise pluripotent rat stem cells, the specific culture medium used
to generate and grow the cells, and rats derived therefrom.

Dr Alastair Riddell, Chief Executive Officer of Stem Cell Sciences, said,
“The impact of this new technique could be far-reaching in terms of opening
the way to new and more effective drug discovery. Rat models are expected to
be highly predictive of human responses to drugs, particularly for in
psychiatric, neurological and cardiovascular areas. With this new technique
allowing researchers to knock-in human genes it will be possible to conduct
drug metabolism and toxicology studies with even higher predictability in
rats than ever before. We expect there to be considerable commercial interest
from companies wanting to access this exciting technology.”

Reference

(1.) Buehr et al., Capture of Authentic Embryonic Stem Cells from Rat
Blastocysts, Cell (2008), doi:10.1016/j.cell.2008.12.007

About Stem Cell Sciences plc

Stem Cell Sciences (SCS) is an international research and development
company focusing on the commercial application of stem cell biology
technologies for drug discovery and regenerative medicine research. Stem Cell
Sciences is now focussing on building revenues through the sale of products,
collaborative research and licensing deals with international biotechnology
and pharmaceutical companies.

Stem Cell Sciences has a substantial portfolio of patents and patent
applications in both adult and embryonic stem cell fields. The Company has
been active in the stem cell research field since 1994, principally focused
on technologies to grow, differentiate, and purify adult and embryonic stem
cells. These include technologies to permit the generation of highly purified
stem cells and their differentiated progeny (specialised tissue cell types)
for use in genetic, pharmacological and toxicological screens. Moreover,
these technologies may be able to provide pure populations of appropriate
cell types for transplantation therapies in the future.

The Company has its main research base and headquarters in Cambridge, UK
with a second research base in Monash near Melbourne, Australia and a
business development office in San Francisco, USA.

For further information on the company please visit:
http://www.stemcellsciences.com

    For further information, please contact:
    Stem Cell Sciences plc (United Kingdom)
    Alastair Riddell, CEO
    Tim Allsopp, Chief Scientific Officer
    +44(0)1223-499160

SOURCE Stem Cell Sciences plc


Source: newswire



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