|Bruce Wisnicki spoke to our governing board about living with Parkinson’s disease and his hope for a cure.|
You’d think Parkinson’s disease would be a slam-dunk for a stem cell-based therapy. The disease occurs when a particular group of cells in the brain die off. The idea would be to mature stem cells into that particular kind of cell and transplant them back into the region of the brain where they would replace the function of the lost cells.
But it hasn’t been so easy. It’s not absolutely clear which stem cells are the best place to start (adult stem cells from the brain, embryonic stem cells or reprogrammed iPS cells). Also, although scientists generally know which neurons need to be replaced, scientists are still working on finding a standarized way of generating and characterizing those cells in a lab dish.
Then there are concerns with how to transplant the cells into the brain without damaging other tissues, how to keep the cells alive once they are transplanted and how to carry out the most effective clinical trials.
Rather leaving each Parkinson’s disease researcher to work these issues out for themselves, last March CIRM convened about 50 of the world’s top experts to discuss how to overcome these obstacles. This week, we’ve published a white paper summarizing the major findings from that workshop.
You can read the detailed Parkinson’s Disease white paper on our website. In short, the group had detailed suggestions for the types of cells to be used and for how to proceed to clinical trials.
The next step is relaying these recommendations to scientists working on Parkinson’s disease projects. We’ll be doing just that November 14 when we’ll hold a free webinar to discuss the findings (the agenda and registration information is on our website).
Although many at CIRM played a role in the workshop and the resulting white paper, a big thank you goes to our science officer Rosa Canet-Aviles, who was the mastermind behind the event.
There’s more information about our Parkinson’s disease funding on our Parkinson’s disease fact sheet.