Historically, the requirement of research groups for the supply of pluripotent stem cells was predominantly catered for by an uncoordinated network of multiple in-house cell culture laboratories. As opposed to other specialist research techniques that depend upon access to capital-intensive instrumentation (e.g. flow cytometry), specialist technical expertise is the fundamental barrier to entry for new pluripotent stem cell laboratories. This is further driven by the breathtaking pace of development in this area especially with respect to advances in reprogramming technology. Additionally, the extensive time and labour requirements for the maintenance of pluripotent stem cells are also considered being some of the factors that will restrict the number of new entrants into this field and one that lends itself to economies of scale and scope.
Realising the importance of a centralised approach, in 2009, the Australian Stem Cell Centre (ASCC) established a National Stem Cell Facility, StemCore, to assist the Australian research and biotechnology community in the application of stem cell technology. StemCore was involved in:
- Provision of live human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells, and accompanying reagents and services
- Custom generation of induced pluripotent stem cells and stem cell characterisation services
- Performing a wide gamut of human genome modifications, from single nucleotide changes to generation of the complex multi-component transgenic “ensembles”
Recognising the importance of continuing to offer these core services to the Australian research community, The University of Queensland and Monash University became founding members of Stem Cells Ltd, a not-for-profit company established for the purposes of continuing to provide these services to the stem cell research community following the cessation of the Australian Stem Cell Centre in June 2011.
- Provide services and support to the Australian stem cell research community
- Enhance national capabilities by providing training and by promoting and facilitating technologies and research in pluripotent stem cell research
- Facilitate the process of advancing research findings into translational outcomes by providing services to facility customers
- Increase the overall standard of stem cell research and technologies in Australia by providing guidance, services, reagents and expert advice
- Respond to the latest developments in the stem cell field to remain at the forefront of technology platforms and scientific knowledge.