Authors: Elena Conroy
The National Institute of Health describes the future of regenerative medicine as a world where there is no donor organ shortage, victims of spinal cord injuries can walk and weakened hearts are successfully replaced.
To achieve the promise of this revolutionary treatment option it is necessary to successfully overcome the barriers associated with immune response, which have severely hindered the advancement of cell replacement therapies thus far. International Stem Cell Corporation (ISCO), a California-based biotechnology company developing novel stem cell-based therapies and biomedical products, is addressing this limitation through the development of its ground-breaking parthenogenesis stem cell technology.
Parthenogenesis utilizes unfertilized human eggs to create pluripotent parthogenetic stem cells (hpSC) that can be immune-matched to millions of people. According to the company’s data, a relatively small number of hpSC lines could provide sufficient immune-matched cells to cover a large percentage of the world’s population, effectively minimizing the effects of autoimmune rejection and allowing for continued research into the massive potential upside of stem cell therapy. Furthermore, HpSC treatment would avoid many of the ethical issues commonly associated with stem cell research via embryonic stem cells.
ISCO identified a number of potential diseases and conditions that could be treated using its hpSCs, but the company’s leading indication is for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is the 14th leading cause of death in the United States according to the National Parkinson Foundation, and an estimated four to six million people suffer from the condition worldwide. Currently, there is no cure and limited treatment options for the disease, creating a significantly underserved market within the pharmaceutical industry.
“In the first quarter of 2015 we completed all the necessary preclinical studies of our Parkinson’s program and formally submitted our application to begin the first clinical study of this novel approach to treating this debilitating disease in humans,” explained Andrey Semechkin, Chief Executive Officer of ISCO. “We continue to expect to make significant progress during the rest of 2015 towards our goal of providing a viable treatment option for people with Parkinson’s disease.”
During preclinical studies, ISCO has demonstrated the safety and efficacy of treating Parkinson’s disease symptoms in animals with transplanted human parthenogenetic neural stem cells. Moving forward, the company is looking to begin its Phase I/IIa clinical studies via its wholly-owned subsidiary, Cyto Therapeutics Pty Ltd.