Human stem cell lines aren’t yet genetically diverse:
U-M Study Reveals Surprising Lack of Genetic Diversity in the Most Widely Used Human Embryonic Stem Cell Lines
ANN ARBOR, Mich., Dec. 16 / PRNewswire-USNewswire
The most widely used human embryonic stem cell lines lack genetic diversity, a finding that raises social justice questions that must be addressed to ensure that all sectors of society benefit from stem cell advances, according to a University of Michigan research team.
In the first published study of its kind, the U-M team analyzed 47 embryonic stem cell lines, including most of the lines commonly used by stem cell researchers. The scientists determined the genetic ancestry of each line and found that most were derived from donors of northern and western European ancestry…
“Embryonic stem cell research has the potential to change the future of medicine,” said Sean Morrison, director of the U-M Center for Stem Cell Biology and one of the study leaders. “But there’s a lack of diversity among today’s most commonly used human embryonic stem cell lines, which highlights an important social justice issue.”
The same old issue: even if you could grow a kidney from stem cells and then transplant it, it’d be best that it comes from a genetic background similar to the recipient. So when you’ve got a limited stem cell population, you’ve got a limited target population for ‘cures.’
The current stem cell populations were derived from embryos generated in in-vitro fertilization clinics. Those clients would be upper middle class westerners of white European ancestry, ergo the genetics problem.
It’s crucial that diverse lines are available for this research to ensure that all patients benefit from the results, Morrison said.
“If that’s not done, we run the risk of leaving certain groups in our society behind,” said Morrison, who is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at U-M.
So what did Dobson’s FRC make of this science factoid and the call to diversify the stem cell pool?
It’s never enough with some of these people. Supposedly having at their disposal several hundred new hESC lines was satisfactory, plus the open-ended promise from President Obama of as many fertility-clinic embryos as they would like. But Michigan’s Sean Morrison . . .
“. . will also make it a priority to derive new embryonic stem cell lines from underrepresented groups, including African-Americans.”
So, apparently Prof. Morrison is going to be stalking minority couples at IVF clinics, targeting their embryos for his lab . . .