Millipore licenses neural stem cells

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Neuron Stem cell

A new licensing deal will allow Millipore to supply researchers
with a commercial source of neural stem cells for the first time.

Millipore believe the neural stem cells will provide an important tool for neural research, especially with regards to Alzheimer's, spinal cord injury and depression research.

Under the deal with Aruna Biomedical, the ENStem neural stem cells will be sold and marketed by Millipore as a kit with an optimised serum-free growth media and substrates.

A major problem for neuroscientists has been the availability of human brain cells, who have had to rely on animal models or small amounts of human cells which are hard to culture.

This has slowed research into neurodegenerative diseases and made the study of new drug targets more difficult.

"The potential impact of this product on the neural research community could be astounding," commented Dr Steven Stice, CEO of Aruna.

"By accelerating the pace of neurological research for tens of thousands of scientists, we hope to provide patients with possible therapies and treatments for debilitating neurological diseases and spinal cord injuries sooner than imagined."

The stem cells provide a reliable source of human neural cells for research into disease models and allow the testing of potential drug candidates.

In addition, because the cells are derived from a National Institute of Health (NIH) approved human embryonic stem cell (hESC) source, there is no barrier for NIH funded researchers to use the cells.

Millipore have an optimised procedure to differentiate the cells into neurons, with optimisation of the differentiation of the cells into glial cells and astrocytes ongoing.

According to Michelle Green, director of Stem Cell Product Management: "we are providing enabling technologies that enable stem cells to be used as a tool in the laboratory, allowing researchers that aren't stem cell scientists but neurologists access to the cells they need."

The neural stem cells, which can differentiate into neurons, glial cells and astrocytes, were developed by Dr Steven Stice, of the University of Georgia Research Foundation and CEO of Aruna.

Stice's start-up company, Aruna Biomedicals, licensed the cell line from the University of Georgia earlier this year before agreeing to the exclusive worldwide marketing and distribution license with Millipore.

Financial details of the agreement have not been disclosed.

The cell line is covered by the WARF patent in the US as they are produced from hESCs and is covered under the license Millipore took from WARF in 2005.

The licensing deal with Aruna Biomedical confirms Millipore's continuing push into the drug discovery products and services market after their $1.4bn acquisition of Serologicals last year.

"This agreement further supports Millipore's commitment to providing tools that accelerate stem cell research worldwide," said Patrick Schneider, vice president of Millipore's Research Reagents Division.

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