Mapping the 'human embryome' in BioTime

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Embryonic stem cell, Stem cell, Developmental biology

BioTimes' subsidiary, Embryome Sciences, is planning to build a
relational database that will help identify the hundreds of cell
types that can be made from human and mouse embryonic stem cells.

Products derived from stem cells are becoming increasingly important​ to the pharmaceutical companies who are looking to start drug candidate safety studies earlier in the development process before they enter animal trials. This should help weed out candidates that will fail later in animal trials and minimise the time and money spent on developing drugs for animal tests for them to fail for safety reasons. To this end Embryome Sciences is developing what it believes to be the first database to describe the delineation of embryonic cell pathways which should aid researchers purify useful cell types. "Human embryonic stem cells have enormous potential in medicine due to their ability to become all of the cell types of the human body,"​ said Dr Michael West, CEO of BioTime. The database will be built on a software core licensed from Targeted Therapeutics consulting, which currently operates a relational database to aid the development of anticancer drugs. The map of the human (and mouse) embryomes will enable researchers to chart the cell lineages of human development, the genes expressed in those cell types, and antigens present on the cell surface of those cells that can be used in purification. Embryome Sciences was formed earlier this month to develop products in the emerging stem cell field known as 'embryonics' and plans to "provide scientists with a detailed "roadmap" of the human developmental tree, the factors to push the cells into desired lineages, and tools to purify the desired cell types." ​ It is aiming to publish its map of the mouse embryome on its website early next year and will add the human embryome map to the site by June 2008. The company plans to use its website to market stem cell research products from various companies with offerings that will include different growth and differentiation factors. By the end of 2009 the company plans to have launched a line of purification tools for use in the quality control of regenerative medicine products. "Embryonic stem cells can now be derived in a non-controversial manner, [and] are increasingly likely to be utilised in a wide array of future therapies to restore the function of organs damaged by degenerative diseases such as heart failure, stroke, and diabetes,"​ said Dr West. "The future challenge for regenerative medicine is to navigate the complexity of human development and manufacture purified populations of desired cell types."

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