Launch of new European Stem Cell Bank

Published: 23 March 2016

The initial collection of iPSCs available from the catalogue have 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 & 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 4 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.

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.

Aidan Courtney, CEO of Roslin Cell Sciences stated “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.”  

Project Partners EFPIA companies

  • Neusentis, a Research Unit of Pfizer Ltd, UK (Project Coordinator)
  • Novo Nordisk A/S, Denmark
  • AstraZeneca AB, Sweden
  • H. Lundbeck A/S, Denmark
  • Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, a Pharmaceutical Company of Johnson & Johnson, Belgium
  • UCB Biopharma SPRL, Belgium
  • Bayer Pharma AG, Germany
  • Eli Lilly and Company Ltd, UK


Roslin Cell Sciences Ltd, UK (Manager of the public partners)


DefiniGEN Ltd, UK

Douglas Connect GmbH, Switzerland

Bioneer A/S, Denmark

Universities, research organisations, public bodies, non-profit groups

  • University of Edinburgh, UK
  • Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V., Germany: o Fraunhofer-Institut für Biomedizinische Technik (IBMT) o Fraunhofer-Institut für Molekularbiologie und Angewandte Oekologie (IME Screening Port), Germany
  • Genome Research Limited (Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute), UK
  • European Molecular Biology Laboratory (European Bioinformatics Institute), Cambridge, UK
  • Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany • University of Newcastle, UK
  • Klinikum der Universität zu Köln, Germany
  • Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany
  • Koninklijke Nederlandse Academie van Wetenschappen (The Hubrecht Institute), The Netherlands
  • University College London, UK o Department of Biochemical Engineering o Division of Biosciences – Department of Cell and Developmental Biology o Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity – Institute of Child Health Developmental Neuroscience
  • Universitätsklinikum Bonn, Germany
  • UK Government Department of Health o Culture Collections of PHE, UK o National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, UK
  • Instituto de Salud Carlos III. (Spanish Stem Cell Bank), Spain o Fundación Publica Andaluza Progreso y Salud o Fundación Privada Centre de Medicina Regenerativa de Barcelona o Fundación Inbiomed

Further information:

EBiSC iPSC catalogue

EBiSC and the project partners

Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI)

Press contacts:

Dr. Jason King 
Roslin Cell Sciences
EBiSC Coordinator 


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