Overview[Note: Because of inclement weather, this event, originally scheduled for January 6, 2016, was re-scheduled to June 1, 2016.]
Parkinson’s disease (PD) affects more than a million people in the US. It is caused by the death of a specific type of nerve cell in the brain, the dopamine-producing neurons in a structure called the substantial nigra. These nerve cells control fine movements and their loss results in symptoms like tremor and difficulty walking. The disease is progressive and there is no cure. In 2012, a unique partnership of scientists, clinicians, PD patients, and patient advocates was formed to develop a therapy for PD using patients’ own skin cells that can be transformed into dopamine neurons, which can then be transplanted to their brains to restore the lost cells. A foundation, called “Summit for Stem Cell” was launched with a climb by PD patients and their friends to the top of 19,341 ft. high Mount Kilimanjaro. Contributions from thousands of people have enabled the Loring lab to perform the preclinical research required for applying to the FDA for approval to conduct a clinical trial. With further support from the foundation and granting agencies, the research and clinical partners hope to transplant cells to the first patient in about three years. This kind of partnership with patient advocates is unprecedented, and is inspiring for both the researchers and the patients, who are working together to develop the first effective therapy for PD.
Jeanne Loring | The Scripps Research Institute
Jeanne F. Loring is a Professor and the founding Director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla. Her research team focuses on large-scale genomic and epigenetic analysis of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), with the goal of ensuring their effectiveness and safety for cell therapy. Her lab is developing stem cell-based therapies for Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, and investigates the underlying causes of autism using patient-specific stem cells. With the San Diego Zoo, her lab is developing a “zoo” of induced pluripotent stem cells from endangered species to aid in their conservation.
Dr. Loring serves on many scientific and bioethics advisory boards, including the Merck KGaA Bioethics Advisory Panel (Germany) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Regulatory and Ethics Board, and the scientific advisory boards for Genea Biocells, Inc. (Australia), Kadimastem,Inc.(Israel), Coriell’s NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository, the National Center for Biomedical Glycomics (Georgia), the NIMH Repository & Genomics Resource (Rutgers), the Paul G. Allen Foundation, and the Heart Regeneration Program (U. Wash.). She was a member of the Panel on Global Assessment of Stem Cell Engineering (NSF, NIST, and NIH) and the Panel on Review of the Material Measurement Laboratory at NIST (The National Academies).
She is frequently quoted in major newspapers, appears on television and in documentary features, and gives many public lectures about science and society. She is particularly concerned with the dangers of unregulated stem cell treatments (“stem cell tourism”).
Profile: Jeanne Loring: “Spreading the stem cell gospel”
- Adjunct Professor, Department of Reproductive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego
- Adjunct Professor, Human Genetics, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute
- Adjunct Professor, Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University
- Research Fellow of the Zoological Society of San Diego