EBiSC - European Bank for induced pluripotent Stem Cells

Launch of new European Stem Cell Bank

Presseinformation (nur Englisch) /

EBiSC, the European Bank for induced pluripotent Stem Cells announces the public launch of its on-line catalogue of induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) which are available to academic and commercial scientists for use in disease modelling and other forms of pre-clinical research. The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT contributes by developing technologies for cell culture automation, safe manipulation of cells, rapid, cost-efficient and extremely consistent screening processes and its expertise in the field of cryorepository and biobank technology, e. g., innovative freezing methods and xeno-free media for the cryopreservation of therapeutically relevant cell systems. A mirror bank is established at the Fraunhofer IBMT in Sulzbach, Germany.

© Fraunhofer IBMT, Bernd Müller.
Automated, ice-free biobank with closed cold chain (ASKION GmbH) installed at the EBiSC mirror facility in Sulzbach.

EBiSC, the European Bank for induced pluripotent Stem Cells announces the public launch of its on-line catalogue of induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs) which are available to academic and commercial scientists for use in disease modelling and other forms of pre-clinical research. (https://cells.ebisc.org). The initial collection of iPSCs available from the catalogue have been generated from a wide range of donors representing either specific disease backgrounds or healthy control donors. The catalogue has been created by the EBiSC consortium - a public-private partnership project supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), of 27 organisations, comprising pharmaceutical companies who are members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), small & medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and academic institutions (www.ebisc.eu).

First pioneered in 2006, human iPSC technology makes it possible to study a disease under laboratory conditions. Patients, who might for example have a neurodegenerative illness or heart disease, provide a skin or blood sample from which iPSCs are made by introducing 4 genes usually expressed in stem cells. Brain, heart and many other types of cell can be produced from these stem cells in the lab and used to discover what is going wrong in these equivalent cells in the patient. This “disease in a dish” research avoids having to take potentially dangerous patient biopsies. Because human disease models are usually preferable to animal models, iPS cell technology is expected to lead to fewer experimental animals being needed in future disease modelling research and the avoidance of interspecies differences.

The rapid advance of iPSC generation technology now permits many laboratories to make their own cell lines. However, researchers rarely have the resources needed for the long term storage and distribution to other researchers of these valuable research tools, leading to duplication of work, delays to research and the generation of erroneous research data. EBiSC has been established to build a robust, reliable supply chain for iPS cell lines, including the generation of disease specific, control and gene edited cell lines through standardised, quality controlled cell line expansion and internationally recognised processes for banking and worldwide distribution. A single user agreement also simplifies the material transfer process both for depositors and customers, ensuring that ownership of deposited lines remains with the depositor.

Cell lines in the current EBiSC catalogue have been made and deposited by EBiSC partner labs and a number of external organisations. This currently includes neurodegenerative diseases (Fronto­temporal Dementia, Motor Neurone Disease - also known as ALS - and Huntington’s Disease), eye and heart diseases, and lines from healthy control donors for age and sex matching. During the next months, new cell lines will enter the catalogue through collaborations with partner research consortia and through new cell line creation from within EBiSC. This will see a large number of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease lines being introduced together with lines for diabetes and cardiovascular research as well as muscular dystrophies and neuropathic pain. In many cases the iPSC lines will be complemented by “isogenic control lines” in which the disease causing mutation has been corrected by gene editing. These control cell lines with the same genetic background as the patient should make it easier for researchers to understand how a particular gene mutation causes a given disease, and this in turn opens the door for potential therapies to be developed.


Aidan Courtney, CEO of Roslin Cell Sciences stated “The launch of the on-line catalogue will allow EBiSC to support stem cell researchers in Europe and elsewhere. The organisations making up the EBiSC Consortium are each leaders in their own area of expertise. We have been fortunate to have the support of IMI to combine these skills from across Europe to create this major research resource.”


Contribution of Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT
(Headquarters Sulzbach, Germany & Cambridge, Research Campus Babraham, UK)
Medical Biotechnology, Pluripotency & Regeneration Group

The Fraunhofer IBMT acts as a device and technology developer in the area of medical biotechnology, cryo(bio)technology and laboratory automation. For more than 10 years, Fraunhofer IBMT has been working in the field of stem cell research and hosting extensive cell line stocks in industrial and clinically structured biobanks for low temperature storage of valuable samples. In recent years this has been extended to the production and characterisation/expansion of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Since 2014, the Fraunhofer IBMT has also a branch facility and research laboratory (“Cooperation Laboratory EFPIA”) in Cambridge (Research Campus Babraham) operated jointly with Roslin Cell Science. IBMT contributes in the EBiSC project by developing technologies for cell culture automation. These range from the cultivation, expansion and differentiation of iPSCs right up to the cryopreservation, quality control and standardisation (GCLP) of therapeutically relevant cell systems to ensure the permanent availability and consistent quality of the biological material. Simultaneously, technologies for the safe manipulation of cells are developed with which patient-specific iPSCs can be generated and differentiated more efficiently. In addition, the advantages of automation, miniaturisation and parallelisation resulting from the use of microfluidic and robotic systems are also used to achieve rapid, cost-efficient and extremely consistent screening processes, like innovative optical methods and state-of-the-art molecular biology tools for the analysis at the single cell level. As the efficient storage of cell material is essential, Fraunhofer IBMT couples its renowned expertise in the field of cryorepository and biobank technology with the development of cutting edge freezing methods and high-performance, xeno-free media for the cryopreservation of therapeutically relevant cell systems.

EBiSC’s central repository and processing operation is located at the Research Campus Babraham. The facility is operated by Roslin Cells and used to expand iPSC lines under the highest standard for quality control, before they enter the EBiSC catalogue. A mirror bank is established at the Fraunhofer IBMT in Sulzbach, Germany. The facility is operating with a fully automated cryobanking system that guarantees a low-temperature cool chain to ensure safe and consistent cryobanking of the EBiSC cell lines. The mirror bank is controlled by the EBiSC central site and serves additionally as supporting capacity.


Project Partners

EFPIA companies

  • Neusentis, a Research Unit of Pfizer Ltd, UK (Project Coordinator)
  • Novo Nordisk A/S, Denmark
  • AstraZeneca AB, Sweden
  • H. Lundbeck A/S, Denmark
  • Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, a Pharmaceutical Company of Johnson & Johnson, Belgium
  • UCB Biopharma SPRL, Belgium
  • Bayer Pharma AG, Germany
  • Eli Lilly and Company Ltd, UK


  • Roslin Cell Sciences Ltd, UK (Manager of the public partners)
  • ARTTIC SAS, France
  • DefiniGEN Ltd, UK
  • Douglas Connect GmbH, Switzerland
  • Bioneer A/S, Denmark

Universities, research organisations, public bodies, non-profit groups

  • University of Edinburgh, UK
  • Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V., Germany:
    o   Fraunhofer-Institut für Biomedizinische Technik (IBMT)
    o   Fraunhofer-Institut für Molekularbiologie und Angewandte Oekologie (IME Screening Port), Germany
  • Genome Research Limited (Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute), UK
  • European Molecular Biology Laboratory (European Bioinformatics Institute), Cambridge, UK
  • Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
  • University of Newcastle,  UK
  • Klinikum der Universität zu Köln, Germany
  • Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany
  • Koninklijke Nederlandse Academie van Wetenschappen (The Hubrecht Institute), The Netherlands
  • University College London, UK
    o   Department of Biochemical Engineering
    o   Division of Biosciences – Department of Cell and Developmental Biology
    o   Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity – Institute of Child Health Developmental Neuroscience
  • Universitätsklinikum Bonn, Germany
  • UK Government Department of Health
    o   Culture Collections of PHE, UK
    o   National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, UK
  •  Instituto de Salud Carlos III. (Spanish Stem Cell Bank), Spain
    o   Fundación Publica Andaluza Progreso y Salud
    o   Fundación Privada Centre de Medicina Regenerativa de Barcelona
    o   Fundación Inbiomed


For the EBiSC iPSC catalogue, see https://cells.ebisc.org

For further information on EBiSC and the project partners see www.ebisc.eu.

For more information on the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), visit www.imi.europa.eu


Press contacts


Dr. Jason King,  Roslin Cell Sciences EBiSC Coordinator

Email: ebisc@eurtd.com




About the Innovative Medicines Initiative

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is working to improve health by speeding up the development of, and patient access to, the next generation of medicines, particularly in areas where there is an unmet medical or social need. It does this by facilitating collaboration between the key players involved in healthcare research, including universities, pharmaceutical companies, other companies active in healthcare research, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), patient organisations, and medicines regulators. This approach has proven highly successful, and IMI projects are delivering exciting results that are helping to advance the development of urgently-needed new treatments in diverse areas.

IMI is a partnership between the European Union and the European pharmaceutical industry, represented by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). Through the IMI 2 programme, IMI has a budget of €3.3 billion for the period 2014-2024. Half of this comes from the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. The other half comes from large companies, mostly from the pharmaceutical sector; these do not receive any EU funding, but contribute to the projects ‘in kind’, for example by donating their researchers’ time or providing access to research facilities or resources.

More info on IMI: www.imi.europa.eu

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About Roslin Cell Sciences

Roslin Cell Sciences is committed to the production of high quality induced pluripotent stem cells for use in drug discovery. Induced pluripotent stem cell technology provides a platform to enable drug discovery research to be accelerated and more targeted. Utilising human cell lines from patients with different disease related genetic backgrounds provides the opportunity to evaluate drug efficacy and ultimately leading to approaches to personalised medicine. We offer a complete cell-based contract research service for iPSC production. We have the capacity to generate and handle large numbers of cell lines for use in fundamental research and drug development.