NEW YORK—The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) and the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) have begun a partnership to develop resources for the study of Parkinson’s disease in hopes of accelerating new treatments.
“We are very excited to be a part of this joint effort with the Parkinson’s Progression
Markers Initiative. This collaboration will provide a comprehensive look at this devastating disease at the cellular level across a broad number of patients,” Susan L. Solomon, CEO of NYSCF, said in a press release. “We are very grateful to Lawrence Golub and Karen
Finerman for their pioneering support of the NYSCF – Golub Stem Cell Research Initiative for Parkinson’s Disease Research.”
Golub and Finerman, who are members of the NYSCF Leadership Council, will be funding the first phase of the partnership, and had previously funded the NYSCF – Golub Stem Cell Research Initiative for Parkinson’s Disease Research. Finerman also holds a seat on the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) board of directors.
Under this partnership, NYSCF will generate stem cell lines from patients participating in PPMI, enabling study of how the disease develops and progresses in a variety of patients. These stem cell lines will also be made available to the scientific community at large.
At NYSCF’s Research Institute, the stem cell lines will be generated via NYSCF’s Global Stem Cell Array, an automated robotic platform that enables the creation of identical stem cell lines from a large sample of patients. Skin cells are reprogrammed to become induced pluripotent stem cells, which can become any of the cell types affected in Parkinson’s disease and replicate to reflect the progression of the disease. Disease models will be generated using induced pluripotent stem cell-derived dopaminergic neurons, which are known to degenerate in Parkinson’s disease.
“To prevent or slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease, we need to elucidate the pathobiology of PD,” Ken Marek, Ph.D., commented in a statement. Marek is the principal investigator of PPMI and senior scientist and co-founder of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders. “The cell lines generated by The New York Stem Cell Foundation will be an important tool to help us understand the etiology and progression of PD in combination with the comprehensive biomarker data already coming from PPMI.”
PPMI, which is sponsored by the MJFF, is a long-term observational study that aims to track the progression of Parkinson’s disease in order to identify biomarkers of the condition. The study is underway at 32 clinical sites worldwide, with 400 Parkinson’s disease patients and 200 healthy controls, and is funded by 13 industry partners.
Parkinson’s disease currently affects some five million people worldwide, and as of yet, no cures exist.
SOURCE: NYSCF press release