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Development of Technologies for the Derivation, Propagation and Differentiation of hESC.

To lay the groundwork for developing human embryonic stem cell-based therapies and facilitate the broader use of these cells to identify new drugs that stimulate or repress particular regenerative events in vivo.

Project Leaders James Piret, Connie Eaves , Mick Bhatia, Andreas Nagy
Project Co-Investigators Terry Thomas, Aly Karsan , Derek Van der Kooy, Stephen Lye, Marco Marra , Derrick Rancourt, Janet Rossant, Peter Zandstra, Charles Haynes, Ellen Greenblatt, Robert Casper, Cal Green, Michael Kallos
Involved Organizations
BC Cancer Agency
Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre
Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute
McMaster University
University of Calgary
University of Toronto
Stem Cell Technologies
The Hospital for Sick Children
Mount Sinai Hospital
Funding Agencies
Stem Cell Network



This potential has generated extraordinary excitement in the use of these cells to devise novel cellular therapies for a variety of clinical conditions. These include many currently debilitating and costly human diseases (e.g., diabetes and Parkinson’s disease), as well as irreparable injuries (e.g., spinal cord paralysis). There are a number of hurdles to overcome, however, between our present state and therapeutic application. Detailed information is required about how to propagate human embryonic stem cells while retaining their developmental capacity and without acquiring adverse DNA changes. Human embryonic stem cell lines of a clinical grade (i.e., derived under conditions where the cells do not contact animal products) need to be derived and studied. Furthermore, reliable methods are needed to differentiate these cells into clinically useful numbers of specific populations. To address these needs, we have organized a multidisciplinary team of established investigators with diverse expertise and with a common interest in embryonic stem cell biology.

We will look at: (1) the evaluation of new ways to determine the extent to which key properties of human embryonic stem cells are maintained, (2) the application of these new methods to identify critical culture conditions and tissue culture medium components that allow optimization of the output of undifferentiated human embryonic stem cells during their propagation in vitro, (3) the adjustment of these conditions to reduce or eliminate the use of non-human growth substrates and medium components, (4) the derivation of new human embryonic stem cell lines under these improved conditions, and (5) the development of standardized methods and reagents to generate differentiated cells for future clinical applications in blood and vascular regeneration therapies.


Contact Information

For all project related inquires please contact us.

Cecelia Suragh, Project Manager
Genome Sciences Centre, BC Cancer Agency
Phone: 604-707-5900 x 5427
Fax: 604-876-3561