Launch of new European Stem Cell Bank

Sanger Institute's stem cells pipeline contributes HiPSCi cell lines to international resource.

EBiSC, the European Bank for induced pluripotent Stem Cells, announces the public launch of its on-line catalogue of induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) which are available to academic and commercial scientists for use in disease modelling and other forms of pre-clinical research. ( The initial collection of iPSCs available from the catalogue has been generated from a wide range of donors representing either specific disease backgrounds or healthy control donors. The catalogue has been created by the EBiSC consortium – a public-private partnership project supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), of 27 organisations, comprising pharmaceutical companies who are members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and academic institutions (

First pioneered in 2006, human iPSC technology makes it possible to study a disease under laboratory conditions. Patients, who might, for example, have a neurodegenerative illness or heart disease, provide a skin or blood sample from which iPSCs are made by introducing four genes usually expressed in stem cells. Brain, heart and many other types of cell can be produced from these stem cells in the lab and used to discover what is going wrong in these equivalent cells in the patient. This “disease in a dish” research avoids having to take potentially dangerous patient biopsies. Because human disease models are usually preferable to animal models, iPS cell technology is expected to lead to fewer experimental animals being needed in future disease modelling research and the avoidance of interspecies differences .

Sanger Institute, Genome Research Limited
False-coloured image of stem cells grown on feeders
The rapid advance of iPSC generation technology now permits many laboratories to make their own cell lines. However, researchers rarely have the resources needed for the long-term storage and distribution to other researchers of these valuable research tools, leading to duplication of work, delays to research and the generation of erroneous research data. EBiSC has been established to build a robust, reliable supply chain for iPS cell lines, including the generation of disease-specific, control and gene-edited cell lines through standardised, quality controlled cell line expansion and internationally recognised processes for banking and worldwide distribution. A single user agreement also simplifies the material transfer process both for depositors and customers, ensuring that ownership of deposited lines remains with the depositor.

Cell lines in the current EBiSC catalogue have been made and deposited by EBiSC partner labs and a number of external organisations. This currently includes neurodegenerative diseases (Frontotemporal Dementia, Motor Neurone Disease – also known as ALS – and Huntington’s Disease), eye and heart diseases, and lines from healthy control donors for age and sex matching. During the next months, new cell lines will enter the catalogue through collaborations with partner research consortia and through new cell line creation from within EBiSC. This will see a large number of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease lines being introduced together with lines for diabetes and cardiovascular research as well as muscular dystrophies and neuropathic pain. In many cases, the iPSC lines will be complemented by “isogenic control lines” in which the disease-causing mutation has been corrected by gene editing. These control cell lines with the same genetic background as the patient should make it easier for researchers to understand how a particular gene mutation causes a given disease and this, in turn, opens the door for potential therapies to be developed.

“The launch of the on-line catalogue will allow EBiSC to support stem cell researchers in Europe and elsewhere. The organisations making up the EBiSC Consortium are each leaders in their own area of expertise. We have been fortunate to have the support of IMI to combine these skills from across Europe to create this major research resource.”

Aidan Courtney CEO of Roslin Cell Sciences

“Two of the Sanger Institute’s fundamental principles are to produce great science and to share it with the global scientific community. Our work with the EBiSC project is a perfect example of this in action. As we continue to expand and bank our lines of human iPS cells from the HiPSCi project our partnership with EBiSC ensures that our high-quality iPS cells will make a major contribution to the worldwide development of stem cell research.”

Dr Chris Kirton Head of Cellular Operations at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

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Notes to Editor


The EBiSC project has received support from the Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking under grant agreement n° 115582, resources of which are composed of financial contribution from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) and EFPIA companies’ in kind contribution

Selected websites

  • EBiSC iPSC Catalogue

    On-line catalogue of induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) which are available to academic and commercial scientists for use in disease modelling and other forms of pre-clinical research.

  • EBiSC (European Bank for induced pluripotent Stem Cells)

    Further information on EBiSC and the project partners

  • About the Innovative Medicines Initiative

    The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is working to improve health by speeding up the development of, and patient access to, the next generation of medicines, particularly in areas where there is an unmet medical or social need. It does this by facilitating collaboration between the key players involved in healthcare research, including universities, pharmaceutical companies, other companies active in healthcare research, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), patient organisations, and medicines regulators. This approach has proven highly successful, and IMI projects are delivering exciting results that are helping to advance the development of urgently-needed new treatments in diverse areas.

    IMI is a partnership between the European Union and the European pharmaceutical industry, represented by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). Through the IMI 2 programme, IMI has a budget of €3.3 billion for the period 2014-2024. Half of this comes from the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. The other half comes from large companies, mostly from the pharmaceutical sector; these do not receive any EU funding, but contribute to the projects ‘in kind’, for example by donating their researchers’ time or providing access to research facilities or resources.

  • About Pfizer Inc.: Working together for a healthier world

    At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacture of health care products. Our global portfolio includes medicines and vaccines as well as many of the world’s best-known consumer health care products. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as one of the world’s premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world. For more than 150 years, Pfizer has worked to make a difference for all who rely on us.

  • About Roslin Cell Sciences

    Roslin Cell Sciences is committed to the production of high quality induced pluripotent stem cells for use in drug discovery. Induced pluripotent stem cell technology provides a platform to enable drug discovery research to be accelerated and more targeted. Utilising human cell lines from patients with different disease-related genetic backgrounds provides the opportunity to evaluate drug efficacy and ultimately leading to approaches to personalised medicine. We offer a complete cell-based contract research service for iPSC production. We have the capacity to generate and handle large numbers of cell lines for use in fundamental research and drug development.

  • The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

    The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is one of the world’s leading genome centres. Through its ability to conduct research at scale, it is able to engage in bold and long-term exploratory projects that are designed to influence and empower medical science globally. Institute research findings, generated through its own research programmes and through its leading role in international consortia, are being used to develop new diagnostics and treatments for human disease.

  • The Wellcome Trust

    The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. We support the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. Our breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. We are independent of both political and commercial interests.