Ten international drug companies are to team up with scientists from 11 European countries to create a bank of stem cells for a project aimed at speeding up the development of new medicines.

StemBANCC, coordinated by Swiss drugmaker Roche and managed by scientists at Oxford University, aims to use so-called human-induced pluripotent stem cells - derived from people with hard-to-treat conditions - as research tools.

Martin Graf from Roche, who is coordinating the project, said the goal was to generate 1,500 induced pluripotent stem cell lines derived from 500 patients that can then be used by researchers around the world to study a range of diseases, including diabetes and dementia.