ANN ARBOR, Mich., Oct. 3 (UPI) -- University of Michigan researchers said Sunday they have created a line of human embryonic stem cells that will spur the state's medical research industry.
The cell line, known as UM4-6, was developed under a 2008 program approved by Michigan voters that allows the development of stem cells from unused human embryos obtained from fertility clinics.
The new cells will be made available to researchers at the Ann Arbor campus and other facilities around Michigan, the university said in a written statement. The UM4-6 could also be made available to other researchers if a federal court eventually rejects a ban on federal funding for research involving embryonic stem cells.
"We've spent a lot of time making sure that our entire process is in compliance with the National Institutes of Health guidelines for registering embryonic stem cell lines so that other scientists will be able to use these lines to conduct NIH-funded research," said Gary Smith, co-director of the Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies.
Smith told the Detroit Free Press that the UM-4-6 cell line began with 30 cells that have since grown to millions of cells that retain their embryonic characteristics. "We're almost teaching ourselves," Smith said. "No one here has done that -- derived their own stem cell lines."
The Michigan scientists will discuss UM4-6 project further at this week's World Stem Cell Summit in Detroit.