Partners in Parkinson’s

Buck Institute and Q Therapeutics form stem cell collaboration to combat Parkinson’s Disease

Amy Swinderman
NOVATO, Calif.—The Buck Institute for Age Research, a non-profit organization dedicated to extending life span, will collaborate with biotechnology company Q Therapeutics Inc. on finding novel routes to combat Parkinson's disease, the companies announced last month.

According to the agreement, the companies will use their expertise in differentiating stem cells to provide key cell types needed to study Parkinson's disease. These neural-lineage cell lines will be used to further research aimed at the use of various stem and progenitor cells as a potential treatment for Parkinson's disease.

Q Therapeutics will bring expertise in transplanting cells in immune compromised models of disease, and will provide Buck the opportunity to evaluate cells covered by Q Therapeutics' intellectual property for their ability to ameliorate symptoms in animal Parkinson's disease models.
 
In turn, Buck will bring expertise in developing molecular models of diseases, mouse disease models and access to its high-throughput screening facility.

Buck faculty member Dr. Xianmin Zeng, who runs both a Buck laboratory focusing on embryonic stem cell research and the Buck CIRM Shared Resource Facility, says the companies are "enthusiastic" about the agreement because it will benefit their research in many ways. Buck will evaluate various neural lineage cells provided by both companies in animal models of Parkinson's Disease, and Q Therapeutics will evaluate these same cells in its models in vitro and in vivo to evaluate phenotype. The companies will then evaluate cells from different sources that are also differentiated into both neuronal and glial phenotypes.

"The correlation of efficacy of the various cell types in Parkinson's Disease models with the properties and phenotype of the various cells will further our understanding of the disease and the potential for cell therapy and pharmaceutical targets," Zeng says.

Dr. James Campanelli, senior director of Research and Development at Q Therapeutics, says the studies will provide useful data in animal models of Parkinson's Disease that ultimately will provide support for the testing of the most promising cell populations in Parkinson's Disease patients.

"We also anticipate that these cell populations will be useful for new drug discovery, both for efficacy as well as drug safety screening assays," Campanelli says.

The collaborative effort was the brainchild of Dr. Mahendra Rao, a co-founder of Q Therapeutics and an adjunct professor at Buck. Q Therapeutics has exclusive rights to 16 patents arising out of work done by Dr. Rao.

Amy Swinderman

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