UniStemCell bank is the life science industry’s first collection of non-embryonic histocompatible human stem cells available for research and commercial use. The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system represents antigens important for transplantation. Normally donor tissue is screened for antigens in order to determine the degree of histocompatibility (or tissue compatibility) with the recipient. HLA haplotypes are classed as HLA-A, HLA-B, HLA-C and HLA-DR locus alleles and there are roughly 200 common HLA haplotypes in the US Caucasian population. Tissue derived from stem cells faces the same problem of tissue rejection as organ transplantation. One way to produce HLA matched cells for cell-based therapy is by using human histocompatible stem cells with homozygous HLA loci.
International Stem Cell Corporation has developed a proprietary technique for creating histocompatible stem cells via parthenogenetic activation (human parthenogenetic stem cells or hpSC). The process uses unfertilized human eggs and results in the cells inheriting a duplicate set of HLA genes. Matching donor and recipient tissue for HLA greatly increases the likelihood of transplant survival. This significantly reduces the possibility of the derived cells being rejected by an individual’s immune system making a single cell line suitable for treating millions of individuals. A relatively small number of such cell lines could be sufficient to provide “immune matched” cells to a large percentage of the world’s population.
Use of hpSC
Why use hpSC? This type of cell retains all of the advantages required to generate targeted histocompatible therapeutic tissues while being unable to generate a complete human organism.
They are as pluripotent and proliferative as a human embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), but do not carry any possible genetic damage caused by reprogramming in the case of iPSC.
Because hpSC are not derived from the patient, they will not carry a genetic disease that is inherent in the patient. For example, if cells are taken from a person with cystic fibrosis to generate stem cells, then those cells carry the same disease, making them less useful. An independent source of cells is a superior choice in this case.