At Lifeline Skin Care, our interest in Parkinson’s disease reaches well beyond simply taking notice of Parkinson’s Awareness month each April. Instead, we contribute everyday to groundbreaking research to manage and cure Parkinson’s. And as a Lifeline customer, so do you -- because our proceeds support the tissue engineering research of our parent company, International Stem Cell Corporation (ISCO). The powerful stem cells at the essence of Lifeline’s products are from the same bio-scientific research that is being harnessed in the fight against Parkinson’s. ISCO is working diligently, and making unequaled, remarkable strides, in discovering how their patented non-embryonic human stem cell technology may be able to put an end to the suffering of Parkinson’s patients.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive neuron-degenerative movement disorder that affects nearly one million people in the United States. (According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, an estimated 7 to 10 million are afflicted world-wide.) Vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons, malfunction and die. Some of these neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that works with the brain to control movement and coordination. As Parkinson’s progresses and the dopamine levels in the brain continue to decrease, the affected person is unable to control movement normally. Primary symptoms include the signature tremors commonly associated with Parkinson’s as well as rigidity of limbs, slowness of movement and lack of coordination and balance. To date, there are medications that can, at best, help manage symptoms; however there is currently no cure for the disease. But that is where ISCO comes in.
Creating Superstar Stem Cells
ISCO scientists created, and patented, an amazingly powerful non-embryonic human stem cell technology, coined “parthenogenetic”; unique in four key areas that are essential to therapeutic application.
- Pluripotent - the cells are capable of becoming any type of cell in the body thereby allowing them to be used to replace defective or damaged cells.
- Immunity Matched – these cells do not present a rejection response that donor cells can cause.
- Proliferation – ISCO’s stem cells can be endlessly and easily duplicated in culture.
- Genetic Mutation – the cells are free of any genetic mutations that may be the origin of disease.
These superstar stem cells are how ISCO is bringing light toward ending Parkinson’s.
Using Stem Cells Against Parkinson’s
With the dynamic combination of these four essential factors, ISCO’s parthenogenetic stem cells can be used to derive healthy neural stem cells. Next, these neural stem cells will be implanted directly into the brain of a Parkinson’s patient, with two critical goals in mind: restoration of function and prevention of progression.
- Direct Cell Replacement Mechanism: Dead and dying cells in the affected region of the brain will be replaced by the newly implanted cells. In turn, this will restore functionality to that part of the brain.
- Neuroprotective Mechanism of Action: The belief, and hope, is the newly implanted cells will prevent more cells from dying and consequently will prevent the progression of the disease.
Putting Theory into Action
Not content to merely prove their breakthrough principle in a laboratory setting, ISCO wants to make a difference in the lives of Parkinson’s patients; and put a halt to the disease itself. "There is a large unmet medical need for new treatments that may halt or reverse the progression of Parkinson's disease and we believe our human neural stem cells may fill this need for the millions of people with this disease." ISCO's Chief Scientific Officer, Ruslan Semechkin, Ph.D. "Having successfully completed the preclinical studies, including the large-scale GLP primate and rodent studies with no adverse events, we believe that our clinical product is safe and that it can have a disease modifying effect as evidenced by increased brain dopamine levels and various behavioral tests," continued Semechkin.
ISCO worked with Duke University to conduct clinical trials research in Parkinson's disease using the company's neural stem cell product. These pre-clinical studies set the stage for the eventual filing of the Investigational New Drug Filing (IND). The success of the Duke study paved the way for the current Parkinson’s disease Clinical Studies to take place in Australia. ISCO recently completed a Cell Bank that will suffice in meeting the needs of the Australian trials.
The rest of the world is noticing the work of ISCO too. The European Union (EU) and Japan’s judicial systems have both upheld patent protection rights of ISCO’s parthenogenetic cell technology in their respective regions of the world.
The confidence in ISCO is encouraging, both for a humanistic and a business perspective. In its yearly ranking, 2014 Technology Fast 500™, ISCO was listed by Deloitte as one of the fastest growing North American companies. "Being highlighted by Deloitte as one of America's fastest growing companies both enhances our reputation and formally acknowledges our achievements over the last few years," said Andrey Semechkin PhD, ISCO's CEO and Co-Chairman.
Committed to a Future Free of Parkinson’s
You will undoubtedly hear more of ISCO’s staunch dedication to ending tremors and other side effects for Parkinson’s patients. They are paving a new road toward the elimination of this widespread disease with their novel and groundbreaking parthenogenetic stem cell approach. We, at Lifeline, stand alongside them in the hope for a cure. Remember everyday as you are using your Lifeline Skin Care products, that you are playing a part in the race for the cure for Parkinson’s as well. And there are at least a million American families who thank you for that.
During the month of April, please consider a gift to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation - or another local organization that supports families living with PD. Thank you.