BlueRock’s PD purity play

Why BlueRock’s iPS cells could fare better in Parkinson’s than fetal transplants

Regenerative medicine company BlueRock is gearing up to submit its first IND this year, banking on its approach to Parkinson’s disease to overcome the legacy of failed fetal transplants by offering a more stable and pure supply of dopaminergic neurons.

BlueRock splashed onto the scene at the end of 2016 when Bayer AG and Versant Ventures teamed up to launch the biotech with a record-setting $225 million series A financing (see “Starting Up Stem Cells”).

BlueRock is using its coffers to build a pipeline of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell-based therapies. The goal is to be among the first companies to advance iPS cell technology from research tool to clinical mainstay, grabbing territory in neurology, cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases in the process.

Its lead program is an allogeneic cell therapy designed to restore dopaminergic neurons in PD patients. PD has long been considered a promising target for regenerative medicine. By the time of diagnosis, patients have lost about 80% of their dopamine-producing neurons. SOC therapies help boost residual dopamine signaling but do nothing to prevent the cell loss.

Researchers have been trying since the 1980s to replenish dopamine neurons via transplantation

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