UConn and FPWR Create Stem Cell Biobank for PWS

A new collaboration between UConn Health and the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research will create a centralized, high quality biobank of stem cells to help researchers better understand Prader-Willi syndrome.

FPWR and the UConn-Wesleyan University Stem Cell Core will jointly support the biobank of induced-pluripotent stem cells for Prader-Willi syndrome. These special stem cells are made from adult cells, and they have the potential to grow into any bodily tissue, including skin, stomach, brain, blood, and more. The biobank will be able to supply induced-pluripotent stem cells for Prader-Willi syndrome to researchers throughout the world.

The University of Connecticut (UConn) Stem Cell Core will provide an important, centralized, repository of high-quality iPSCs for PWS for use world-wide. Each Prader-Willi syndrome induced-pluripotent stem cell sample provided through the biobank will have undergone a select set of validation assays. This will be helpful for establishing reproducible cellular phenotypes for PWS, facilitating research on cellular phenotypic abnormalities in PWS, and ensuring that precious grant dollars are not spent re-creating stem cell resources that may already exist.

“The objective of FPWR’s translational research program is to reduce the amount of time and resources needed to move therapeutic studies forward,” says Nathalie Kayadjanian, director of translational research at FPWR. “Stem cells stored at the UConn Core will provide Prader-Willi syndrome researchers and pharmaceutical companies pursuing Prader-Willi syndrome therapeutics high quality cellular resources to perform robust experiments in a timely manner.”

Stormy Chamberlain, associate professor of Genetics and Genome Sciences at UConn Health, says, “These banked Prader-Willi syndrome cells represent a building block for the development of cell-based assays for future high-throughput drug screening to accelerate the development of new therapeutics for Prader-Willi syndrome.”

Currently the Prader-Willi syndrome biobank has two cell lines, one with PWS by deletion, the other UPD. Both cell lines were contributed by Chamberlain and Marc Lalande, UConn Health researchers who study Prader-Willi syndrome and its sibling genetic disorder Angelman’s syndrome. More cell lines will be banked at the facility within the next years. Details on the cell lines currently banked, as well as the validation and quality control package that is available to characterize these lines, is available at www.fpwr.org/ipsc-biobank