Patrick Salmon, Pharm.D., Ph.D.
Lentivector Lab, Dept of Neurosciences, University of Geneva
Geneva School of Medicine
The role of my laboratory in the CDP is to provide lentivectors that are used to perform genetic engineering of cells.
Lentivectors are microscopic particles derived from lentiviruses. Our knowledge of their life cycle has helped us taming them in such a way that they can no longer achieve a complete multiplication cycle but can still inject the genes they carry into the genome of their target cells. Lentivectors are now among the safest, most powerful and most versatile molecular tools for the genetic engineering of therapeutic cells. In most cases, such as diabetes, the current sources of primary cells will never suffice to treat all the patients. This implies that a robust expansion phase is required to obtain sufficient numbers of therapeutic cells. One application of genetic engineering is “reversible immortalization”, which consists in re-programming cells in such a way that they can proliferate in a controlled manner. We are currently testing reversible immortalization on human beta-cells, as well as human pancreatic progenitors. We are also testing genes that can improve beta-cell functions, as well as genes that can “instruct” pancreatic progenitors to become beta-cells. All this approaches are aimed at the generation of unlimited supplies of surrogate beta-cells.
We became part of the CDP because we believe that our expertise in genetic engineering, combined with the expertise of the other scientists of the CDP can and will make a significant contribution to the overall mission.
The CDP is very special in terms of biological sciences applied toward a global health issue. The gathering of experts coming from all horizons, sharing their knowledge and data with total confidence and trust all aiming at the same target, the cure of diabetes, is quite a unique situation in modern biological science.
Patrick Salmon is a pharmaceutical doctor from Rene Descartes University in Paris. He received his PhD at the Pierre & Marie Curie University in Paris in 1991, studying immunology, virology and molecular biology. From 1993 to 1997, he studied developmental biology, gene expression and signal transduction at the University of California at Berkeley. Since 1997, he works at the Geneva School of Medicine where he is developing molecular tools based on lentivector technology. Since 2005, he is in charge of the Lentivector Lab in the Department of Neurosciences. The Lentivector Lab team is currently designing and producing lentivectors for basic research in neurosciences focusing on neural plasticity, as well as gene and cell therapy of neural disorders focusing on brain damage.