Several initiatives are emerging on the international front to standardize and harmonize processes for stem cell banking and research. These include the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) and the International Stem Cell Banking Initiative (ISCBI), which have adopted an embryo-centric approach, leaving other promising methods behind. The approach includes induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells or those derived from placentas and umbilical cords, among others.
Stem cell bio-banks are set to inspire greater regulatory scrutiny. However, with various jurisdictions taking different policy approaches, there are still considerable uncertainties surrounding the legality of stem cell-related practices, such as material derivation and distribution. There are also uncertainties in national and cross-border material and data use.
The European Union (EU) has noted the need for a centralized and standardized stem cell repository, giving researchers access to quality-controlled cell lines and data for future drug development. One of its recent initiatives is the European Bank for Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (EBiSC), funded by the European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations.
EBiSC has swiftly built a robust and reliable supply chain from the generation of cell lines and plans to continue as a sustainable non-profit bio-bank from 2021 onwards.