Shoukhrat Mitalipov, Ph.D.
Division of Reproductive Sciences
Oregon National Primate Research Center
Oregon Stem Cell Center
Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Molecular & Medical Genetics
Shoukhrat Mitalipov, Ph.D., is getting used to making international headlines. The researcher at OHSU's Oregon National Primate Research Center was in the news quite a bit in August, 2009, when his lab announced a major breakthrough in the field of gene therapy that shows great promise in preventing certain inherited diseases. The research, which was published August 26th in the journal Nature’s online edition, garnered media attention from the Wall Street Journal to BBC News and is being hailed as another major achievement for Dr. Mitalipov and his ONPRC research team. Dr. Mitalipov is internationally recognized for his pioneering contributions to stem cell research using non-human primates, and his lab’s discoveries in November 2007, cloning primate embryonic stem cells, made big news as well.
The new genetic therapy is intended to combat inherited diseases passed from mothers to children through mutated DNA in cell mitochondria. There are currently about 150 diseases caused by such mutations. Complications include certain forms of cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative conditions, infertility and myopathies. The OHSU method enables mothers with these mutations to produce their own biological children without passing down the associated risk of disease. Dr. Mitalipov projects that this work could be rapidly developed into approved human therapies. More details about the process, including a video of Dr. Mitalipov, can be found on the OHSU website.
The achievement of Dr. Mitalipov and his colleagues is indicative of the world-class caliber of research under way every day at OHSU. It also underscores the significant contribution of animal research in the discovery of new treatments for human diseases.
Discoveries like this don’t happen by themselves. Complex and cutting-edge research like that of Dr. Mitalipov takes thousands of hours and requires the brightest minds and the best tools in the field. Philanthropic support helps make such breakthroughs possible. Thanks to gifts like the recent $50,000 investment from the Shinwa-kai Medical Corporation of Japan, Dr. Mitalipov can continue to make discoveries that could change the future of fertility for people with inherited diseases.