World’s largest collection of engineered human cell lines available
30 August 2013
Austrian biotechnology company Haplogen and the Center for
Molecular Medicine (CeMM) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences have
announced that they are making available their large collection of
human cell lines that are deficient for single genes.
They have built the collection over the past three years as part
of a public-private partnership partnership. Haplogen will
distribute requested cell lines to the research community.
The collection and the technological advances that enabled its
development were published in Nature Methods  on August
25. It currently includes cell line clones covering 3,000 different
human genes, which represents about one third of all the genes that
are active in these cells. The collection will continue to expand
until all the genes have been targeted.
Although cell lines of human origin have been around for many
years, they are all vastly different from each other, making them
very difficult to control when performing genetic experiments,
thereby limiting their use particularly for drug discovery efforts
and discovering the function of genes. This new collection
circumvents this problem by providing individual gene mutations in
an otherwise identical genetic background.
Prof. Giulio Superti-Furga, Director of the CeMM who initiated
this project said, “This collection will fuel research in molecular
medicine where the vast majority of human genes remain poorly
understood and await functional characterization. Obtaining human
cells where an individual gene is inactivated has so far been
difficult and very tedious. With this largest human cell line
collection available to date we expect to drive countless scientific
discoveries in the research community."
“The creation of those precise mutants has become possible by the
use of a haploid cell line. Destroying a single gene in haploid
cells will immediately cause a detectable change — in contrast to
our natural cells that always bear two copies of each gene,”
explains Thijn Brummelkamp, the inventor of the haploid genetics
technology in human cells that was used to create this collection,
and founder of Haplogen.
Georg Casari, CEO of Haplogen: “In this publication we show that
these cell lines really behave as if only the gene of choice is no
longer present. We have taken great care to document that the gene
products are gone and that those clones have new properties as
compared to the parental, unmodified cell line. We are excited to
provide and distribute this resource to researchers world-wide and
contribute to the advancement of medical research. Our goal is to
eventually obtain mutant cell lines for every human gene.”
He continued, "At Haplogen we use this collection as an
indispensable component in our research and development of antiviral
medications for treating a wide range of harmful infectious
diseases. This partnership of academic research at CeMM and private
investment by the company has made it possible to finance this
collection and build a resource to the benefit beyond the two
institutions for scientists all over the world.”
1. Bürckstümmer T, et al. A reversible
gene trap collection empowers haploid genetics in human cells. Nat
Methods. 2013 Aug 25. doi: doi:10.1038/nmeth.2609.