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Fighting Parkinson’s

Development of a patient-specific stem cell therapy for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease

The Scripps Research Institute
San Diego, CA Dr. Jeanne Loring
Dr. Andrés Bratt-Leal

The National Stem Cell Foundation (NSCF) has partnered with Summit for Stem Cell to support the development of a patient-specific stem cell therapy for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in San Diego, California.

The research project is directed by Dr. Andrés Bratt-Leal in the lab of Dr. Jeanne Loring, Director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at TSRI. The aim of the research is to use a patient’s own skin cells to create normal dopamine-producing neurons that can be returned to the patient without rejection. Dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to areas of the brain that control movement and coordination, is decreased in Parkinson’s when dopamine-producing neurons malfunction or die.

This patient-specific therapy has the potential to halt or reverse the damage of Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders, including ALS.

Biography for Dr. Loring:

Dr. Loring earned her B.S. in Molecular Biology from the University of Washington and her Ph.D. in Developmental Neurobiology from the University of Oregon.

She has held research and management positions at several biotechnology companies and is currently a Professor and the founding Director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

Her research team focuses on human pluripotent stem cells. Unlike adult stem cells, from fat tissue or bone marrow, pluripotent stem cells can become every cell type in the human body. Dr. Loring’s lab investigates the full spectrum of stem cell potential, ranging from the molecular (genomics and epigenetics) to the clinical (cell therapies).

Among her notable projects in progress are development of a personalized stem cell therapy for Parkinson’s disease, and creation of the “stem cell zoo,” a bank of pluripotent stem cells generated from endangered species. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles, which have been cited nearly 5,000 times. She holds five patents on transgenic methods, Alzheimer disease, and stem cells.

She also serves on scientific advisory and bioethics boards for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, government, and charitable foundations. For her outspoken support of patients and advocacy of stem cell research she was awarded the Stem Cell Person of the Year award in 2015 and received a 2015 Stem Cell Action Advocacy Award from the Genetics Policy Institute, which hosts the World Stem Cell Summit. Dr. Loring is also a member of the prestigious G-Force PD, a global initiative coordinating stem cell-based dopamine treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

Biography for Dr. Bratt-Leal:

Dr. Bratt-Leal received his B.S. from the University of Washington in 2005 and his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech and Emory University in the field of Biomedical Engineering in 2011. At UW, he worked in the labs of Dr. Ceci Giachelli and Dr. Buddy Ratner to apply sphere templating techniques for the development of porous fibrin scaffolds.

His specialty lies in the field of directed differentiation of pluripotent stem cells, including differentiating stem cells towards dopaminergic neurons (the cells which are lost in the progression of Parkinson’s disease.)

He joined the Loring lab at The Scripps Research Institute specifically to work on the Parkinson’s project and now leads the research team working on Parkinson’s research as the Director of Research and Development.

Awards:  NIH Cell & Tissue Engineering Training Grant Fellow (2008-2010) STAR, Biomaterials Conference Student Travel Award Hilton Head Student Travel Award (2009) 3rd Place, Student Poster Award, Georgia Stem Cell Symposium (2008) NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Honorable Mention (2007, 2008) Goizueta Fellowship (2007-2011)

July 27, 2016

“Scientists Receive Funding to Advance Stem-Cell Based Parkinson’s Therapy”
Drug Discovery and Development, July 27, 2016

Jeanne Loring will be leading a two-year project funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to support safety and quality tests for a potential stem cell therapy for Parkinson’s disease.

Read more.