European Biotech Company Biocell Center Opens First U.S. Facility for Preservation of Amniotic Stem Cells in Medford, Massachusetts

Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:15am EDT

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European Biotech Company Biocell Center Opens First U.S. Facility for
Preservation of Amniotic Stem Cells in Medford, Massachusetts
First company to bank amniotic stem cells for families, researchers





MEDFORD, Mass., Oct. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- European biotechnology company Biocell
Center, the first firm to harvest and preserve amniotic stem cells, announced
today that it is expanding its tissue bank and research operations to serve
families, medical centers and scientists in the United States.


The company officially opened its North American headquarters and laboratory
today in Medford Massachusetts, in the heart of the Boston area's
biotechnology hub.  The company has other facilities in Italy and Switzerland.



Governor Deval Patrick welcomed Biocell Center to Massachusetts. "The Life
Sciences Initiative was designed to bring jobs to Massachusetts and support
vital research," he said. "We are thrilled that Biocell Center is opening its
North American headquarters in Medford and welcome them to a diverse group of
pioneering companies that are making Massachusetts a global leader in stem
cell research." 


Last year, Gov. Patrick signed into law the Massachusetts Life Sciences
Initiative, a 10-year, $1 billion commitment to maintaining and strengthening
the life sciences as a major economic engine for the Commonwealth.


Biocell Center scientists have developed a method of preserving stem cells
derived from amniotic fluid.  


"With strong growth in Europe, Biocell Center now will provide pregnant women
across North America who are having an amniocentesis for prenatal diagnosis
the opportunity to bank stem cells derived from their amniotic fluid," said
Kate Torchilin, CEO of Biocell Center Corp.  "These cells can potentially be
used in the future to treat various diseases and for tissue regeneration."  


Biocell Center captures the stem cells from amniotic fluid if the family
requests it and pays for the preservation of the stem cells.  Families can
choose whether to give written consent for use of the stem cells in research. 
 


The first few milliliters of amniotic fluid withdrawn during amniocentesis,
which typically would be discarded, are sent to the Biocell Center laboratory.
 The stem cells are frozen in liquid nitrogen and preserved in the company's
state-of-the-art cryo-bank.


Multiple research studies have demonstrated that amniotic stem cells are
pluripotent, i.e. able to differentiate into various cell types, and are
considered particularly valuable because of their high capacity to
proliferate.  


"The medical community worldwide is already using stem cells for organ and
tissue regeneration and even more important medical breakthrough applications
are foreseen in the future treatment of diabetes, pathologic tissue and organ
damage, neurodegenerative, hematologic and other diseases," said Dr. Giuseppe
Simoni, Scientific Director of Biocell Center.  


Dr. Simoni is internationally recognized in the field of medical genetics for
developing a method for the diagnosis of fetal chromosomal matter during early
pregnancy, a technique that is still used as a standard guideline procedure.


He pointed out that stem cells from amniotic fluid can be used for both
allogenic donations and autologous use, and are often compatible between
siblings. 


State and local officials commended the company for choosing Massachusetts as
the location for its North American headquarters. 


"Massachusetts, with its world-class academic and medical centers, is a great
place to do business for life sciences companies, both international and
domestic, and we welcome Biocell Center to the world's leading life sciences
SuperCluster," said Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, President & CEO of the
Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the quasi-public agency charged with
implementing the state's Life Sciences Initiative. 


"We look forward to continuing the growing partnership between Massachusetts
and the life sciences clusters in Italy," she said.


"Biocell Center's decision to grow in Massachusetts highlights the strength of
the cluster here in the Commonwealth and the capacity for industry
stakeholders to work together to get things done," said Robert Coughlin,
President & CEO of MassBio, who worked with member companies DTZ FHO Partners,
Sullivan & Worcester and Cummings Properties to help Biocell Center with its
expansion.


SOURCE  Biocell Center

Edna Kaplan for Biocell Center, +1-781-639-1910, ext. 105, or mobile
+1-617-974-8659, kaplan@KOGSpr.com
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