Prof Kah Leong LIM Vice-Dean Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
Regenerative Medicine for Parkinson’s Disease – Past, Present, and Future
Parkinson disease (PD) is a prevalent neurodegenerative disease affecting millions of predominantly elderly individuals worldwide. Despite intensive efforts devoted to drug discovery, the disease remains incurable. Pathologically, PD is characterized by the loss of a rather selective population of dopamine-producing neurons in a circumscribed region of the brain, which makes cell-based therapy a feasible option. As early as in the 1970s, proof of concept studies to support this approach has been conducted. This was followed by several high-profile clinical trials using fetal mesencephalic tissue as a source for transplantation, which gave mixed results. More recently, investigators have turned to the induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS) technology to derive dopaminergic neurons for grafting. Notably, human trials for PD with iPS-derived cells are currently ongoing in Japan. As with every clinical trial, hope and risk are interwoven in tandem. In this talk, I shall review past and ongoing efforts in cell-based therapy for PD and provide a brief update on our own efforts in this space that hold promise to impact on the future of regenerative medicine.
BIO Kah-Leong Lim is currently Professor and Vice Dean (Research) at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University. Dr. Lim obtained his Ph.D. from the Singapore Institute of Molecular & Cell Biology in 1999. Thereafter, he did his postdoctoral training firstly at the Department of Pathology in Harvard Medical School (2000-2001), and subsequently at the Department of Neurology in Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (2001-2002) where he worked on the topic of Parkinson’s disease with Professor Ted Dawson. Dr Lim joined the National Neuroscience Institute of Singapore as Head of Neurodegeneration Research Laboratory in July 2002 and rapidly rose through the ranks to become the Deputy Research Director of NNI before he left in 2018 to join the National University of Singapore as the Head of the Department of Physiology at the Yong Loo Ling School of Medicine. Dr Lim is a member of the National Neurosensory Task Force and Chair of its Subpanel on Ageing-related diseases and complications. He is also a member of the National Medical Research Council Grant Review Panel and an ad-hoc reviewer for several international grant agencies including Medical Research Council (UK) and Wellcome Trust (UK). Dr. Lim serves in the editorial board of several journals, including being an Associate Editor of Neuromolecular Medicine, an Academic Editor for PLOS ONE, a Guest Editor for PLOS Genetics and a Review Editor for Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience. He has received several scientific awards for his research, including the Singapore Neuroscience Association Distinguished Neuroscientist Award and the Singapore President Science Award (Team) in 2018. Recently, he was also recognized as one of the “Overseas High-level Talents” under the Shanxi Province “Hundred Talents Program” in the People’s Republic of China. His research work focuses on unravelling the molecular basis of neurodegenerative diseases, with the view to develop novel therapeutics for these debilitating disorders. He has more than 100 publications to date and his work has been cited > 16,000 times (Google Scholar).