Talk #116, 12/6/17

Patient Specific Cell Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

Dr. Andres Bratt-Leal
Director of Research and Development
Summit for Stem Cell Foundation

The impact of Parkinson’s disease (PD):

  • Approximately 1 in 30 over the age of 60 have PD today and that number is expected to grow to 1 in 15 in the next 10 years
  • Over 60,000 are diagnosed annually in the U.S.
  • An estimated 7 – 10 million are affected worldwide

By the time of a PD diagnosis, over 50% of the neurons that make dopamine have already been lost. Earlier detection is not currently possible and no therapy exists to stop further loss of dopamine-producing neurons once a diagnosis has been made. This is where the Summit for Stem Cell Foundation enters the picture. We support a world-leading academic research program with a simple goal: to replace the lost neurons with new ones made from the patients’ own cells.

The Summit for Stem Cell Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) foundation whose mission is to increase awareness and to raise support for the research working towards a dopamine neuron replacement therapy for Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers in the Loring lab at The Scripps Research Institute have taken skin cells from patients and generated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). IPSCs have the same abilities to make all cell types in the body as embryonic stem cells, but being sourced from the patient’s skin cells – they are an exact immune match to the person from which they were derived. The iPSC cells can be further differentiated to become dopamine-producing neurons – the very cells missing in Parkinson’s patients. Collaborators at the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, will then implant the neurons into the part of the brain missing dopamine.

The presentation will be an informal discussion on:

  • History of types of stem cells and their applications
  • The process of making DNA-matching dopamine neurons from skin cells
  • The FDA path to clinical trials in approximately mid-2019


Pete Lobner started the meeting and introduced the speaker for the last meeting of 2017

Dr. Bratt-Leal’s presentation can be downloaded by clicking on this link:
Andres Bratt-Leal Presentation

The meeting slides, including the coin presentation can be downloaded by clicking on this link:
Lyncean Meeting Slides for 12/6/17

Pete also showed a short Dilbert video called “The Knack”.  Here is a link to that video: