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Two Years of Glowing Cells for Science

By December 11, 2018No Comments

They started with a handful of cells taken from a volunteer’s skin.

The cells were engineered in two different laboratories, first to revert the skin cells back to a nascent state, known as pluripotent stem cells, and then to highlight different parts of the cells with glowing fluorescent labels. Nearly 400 vials are now at home in 17 different countries to empower research in foundational cell biology as well as in disease and regenerative medicine.

They are the cells that make up the Allen Cell Collection, a suite of engineered stem cells built for discovery and translation both at the Allen Institute for Cell Science and for the broader research community.

This month, the collection is two years old, and the cells are now for the first time available to scientists doing research in industry. They’ve been available for non-profit and academic use since the collection’s inception in 2016.

“Our team is all about foundational cell biology,” said Rick Horwitz, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Allen Institute for Cell Science, a division of the Allen Institute. “We’re now expanding accessibility by offering these cell lines to the entire research community.”

The researchers who generate these cells have three overlapping end goals in generating this collection: to create an image-based cell atlas, understand the principles of cell organization, and determine how cells transition from state to state. In doing this, they are using highly reproducible and standardized procedures that are shared openly with the scientific community, along with their reagents, data, and methods, and the cell lines themselves.