AUG 30, 2016 08:00 AM PDT
Stem Cells for Regeneration and Rescue
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  • Principal Investigator, The Scripps Research Institute, Center for Regenerative Medicine
      Jeanne Loring is 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 scientific advisory boards for Genea Biocells, Inc. (Australia), Kadimastem, Inc. (Israel), Coriell's NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository, the National Center for Biomedical Glycomics, the NIMH Repository & Genomics Resource (Rutgers), and the Heart Regeneration Program. 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 in the US and other countries ("stem cell tourism").


    Most discussions about pluripotent stem cells center around their promise for regenerative medicine.  The most remarkable quality of these cells is their ability to turn into all of the cell types in the body. This amazing power is driving all of the projects in our lab that range from treatment of human disease to rescue of endangered species. One of our projects is development of an autologous cell replacement therapy for Parkinson’s disease (PD).  We have used non-integrating Sendai virus to reprogram skin cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from ten people afflicted with PD.  Since death of dopamine neurons in the brain leads to the motor symptoms of PD, we have developed methods for generating dopamine neurons from iPSCs and plan to use these cells for autologous transplants, which should eliminate the need for immunosuppression. On the other end of the spectrum, we are using iPSCs in an effort to save endangered species. We are generating iPSCs from fibroblasts stored in the Frozen Zoo® at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.  We are focusing on the Northern White Rhino, which will be extinct in our lifetimes.  Only 3 members of this species remain alive.  But there are fibroblasts from 12 individuals stored in the Frozen Zoo, and we have made iPSCs from two so far. We are generating iPSCs from the rest, and plan to differentiate them into gametes- this has been achieved for mice, but we don’t expect it to be easy for rhinos.  If we succeed, and can make fertilized embryos in the lab, there are 6 females from the closely related Southern White Rhino species already at the zoo who will serve as surrogate mothers.  The astounding power of pluripotency has opened doors to new ideas; we’re just getting started.

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