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Generation of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells with Indigenous Ancestry to Promote Inclusion of North America’s First Peoples in Parkinson’s Disease Research

Study Rationale: North America’s Indigenous people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are largely underrepresented in research studies, and biological material from these populations is rarely available to research groups and biobanks. Therefore, to ensure that biomedical studies best serve the First Peoples population, we propose to generate resources, such as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from these donors.

Hypothesis: By generating seven new iPSC lines from donors with an Indigenous heritage, we will enable research that represents a more diverse population of people with PD.

Study Design: We will collect peripheral immune cells from Indigenous healthy donors and people with PD and reprogram these cells to produce new iPSC lines. In addition, we will use gene-editing methods to introduce PD-associated mutations into the LRRK2 gene of a control iPSC line. We will then validate that our new iPSC lines can produce functional neuronal and non-neuronal cells. Lastly, we will make these cells available to the global PD research community.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s disease: Studies show that a person’s ancestry can affect PD manifestation, and the scientific community needs appropriate tools to recapitulate disease-related diversity “in a dish.” By developing iPSCs from people with Indigenous North American ancestry, our project will broaden the ethnic diversity in PD research.

Next Steps for Development: Our project will provide much-needed resources to include North American Indigenous ancestry in disease modeling, and it will provide the global PD community with high quality, open source iPSCs for mechanistic and drug discovery studies.


  • Aurelie de Rus Jacquet, PhD

    Quebec City QC Canada

  • Thomas M. Durcan, PhD

    Montreal Canada

  • Eric Deneault, PhD

    Ottawa ON Canada

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