Human Embryonic Stem Cell Workshop

Held at the Jackson Laboratories, Bar Harbor, Maine, USA.
4th – 7th August, 2005

In 1954 Leroy Stevens and Clarence Cook Little, working at the Jackson Laboratories published their finding that male 129 mice develop testicular teratomas at a significant and reproducible frequency.  If it is ever possible to identify the ‘start’ of a new area of science, their discovery is arguably the start of the line of research that led eventually to the present day studies of human embryonic stem (ES) cells.  Just over 50 years later, an international workshop was held at the Jackson Laboratories, bringing together representatives from laboratories that have derived human ES cell lines in countries of the Stem Cell Forum.  The purpose of this Workshop was to review the initial data generated by the International Stem Cell Initiative (ISCI), and to discuss plans for future collaborative projects under the auspices of the Stem Cell Forum.

During 2005 The ISCI set up by the Stem Cell Forum has been co-ordinating a series of studies to examine gene and antigen expression patterns, as well as other characteristics of approximately 60 existing human ES cell lines from 17 laboratories.  At the Workshop, representatives from the participating laboratories were able to examine the initial data collected from 36 cells lines available by that time, to review how the project was running and to discuss refinements and approaches to data analysis, which will be incorporated into the final report.  It is expected that the study will be completed in the early 2006, when the data will form the basis for a public Registry of human ES cell lines, maintained on the Forum Web site.

At the Workshop, the participants also discussed the potential for further co-ordinated international collaborations between all the interested groups with human ES cell expertise, worldwide.  It was agreed to discuss with the Stem Cell Forum establishing a second International Stem Cell Initiative (ISCI-2) to develop standardised and defined culture media, and to analyse the extent and causes of genetic instability in human ES cell lines, as well as to develop further the Registry that will be the outcome from ISCI-1.  A Second International Human ES Cell Workshop is also planned to be held at The Jackson Laboratories from 3rd – 6th August, 2006.

The Workshop was sponsored by the Stem Cell Forum, with additional support from The Ellison Foundation, ABI, Invitrogen, Serologicals and GE Healthcare.