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Cablegate: Guangzhou Institute to Play Key Role in China's Stem Cell

VZCZCXRO3708
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGZ #1266/01 3390200
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 040825Z DEC 07 ZDK CTG NUM SVCS
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6712
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GUANGZHOU 001266

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SENSITIVE
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STATE FOR EAP/CM
HHS PASS TO FIC/NIH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO CH
SUBJECT: Guangzhou Institute to Play Key Role in China's Stem Cell
Research Strategy

GUANGZHOU 00001266 001.2 OF 002


(U) This document is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: The Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health
- in association with institutions in Shanghai and Beijing - will
play a key role in China's national stem cell research strategy.
Once limited by virtue of resources that could be expended, GIBH and
others in China could now be in the forefront of more cost effective
stem cell research. End summary.

New National Work Plan for Stem Cell Research
---------------------------------------------

2. (U) The Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health (GIBH), in
association with research institutions in Beijing and Shanghai, will
play a key role in China's national strategy for stem cell research,
according to local media reports. On November 23, more than 50
Chinese scientists from leading stem cell research institutes met in
Beijing for three days to develop a national work plan that will
allow them to capitalize on new stem cell technology that can
reprogram human skin cells into stem cells, also known as the
induced pluripotent cells. GIBH Deputy Director Professor Pei
Duanqing, who attended the meeting, described the new technology as
the start of "a new epoch in human history". GIBH and institutes in
Beijing and Shanghai have been asked to share their resources,
acquire new technology and pass it on to other institutes.

3. (U) Chinese researchers were motivated in large part by recent
breakthroughs made by the U.S. and Japan researchers on
reprogramming skin cells into stem cells, a process known as induced
pluripotent cells, which uses simple and cost-effective molecular
cloning techniques. The breakthrough opens new opportunities for
Chinese researchers who were previously limited due to inadequate
resources.

GIBH Well Positioned to Build on Recent Advances
--------------------------------------------- ---

4. (SBU) GIBH, which has strong basic and applied molecular biology
techniques, is well positioned to take advantage of the new
cost-effective stem cell technologies. GIBH Director Chen Ling told
us that the institute was founded after the SARS outbreak, which
originated in Guangdong, to strengthen China's biomedical research
and development capability particularly in infectious diseases. It
was established jointly by the Chinese Academy of Science, Guangdong
Provincial Government, and Guangzhou Municipal Government in 2005
with a combined initial investment of RMB 300 million (about US$40
million). The founding director, Ling Chen, is a U.S.-trained
scientist with academic and industrial experience who recruited more
than 20 principal investigators from diverse disciplines.

5. (SBU) The South China Institute of Stem Cell Biology and
Regeneration Medicine is the stem cell research unit of GIBH and is
headed by GIBH Deputy Director Pei. The stem cell research
institute, in the Guangzhou Science Park, has three principal
investigators and close to 20 technical staff. GIBH Director Chen
said the institute is building a permanent campus in the nearby
Nansha Development Zone; the new facility will be equipped with a
stem cell bank and laboratories capable of using the methods
published by the U.S. and Japan researchers. According to the GIBH
website, the research agenda of the stem cell research institute
covers a wide range of activities, including the maintenance of
pluripotency in stem cells, the mechanism of stem cell
differentiation and cell-cycle control, neural stem cells, stem cell
biochemistry and technology platform, as well as nuclear
reprogramming of somatic cells.

Conference Showcases Chinese Stem Cell Progress
--------------------------------------------- --

6. (U) Stem cell research began in China in the 1990s but has
recently attracted more attention from the international research
community. On November 6-9, the U.S.-based International Society
for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), along with five major stem cell
research institutes from China, jointly organized the 2007 Shanghai
International Stem Cell Research Conference. It was the first time
ISSCR sponsored a conference other than its own annual meeting. It
was also the first major international conference on stem cell
research to be held in China. The meeting brought together nearly
500 participants from more than 20 countries. One of the objectives
was to showcase the progress made by Chinese stem cell researchers.
Of the 57 scientists who made presentations at the conference, 33
were Chinese. Additional information on the Shanghai conference can
be found at http://www.chinastemcell.org.cn/2007SIS/einde x.asp.

GUANGZHOU 00001266 002.2 OF 002

GOLDBERG

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