Dr. Douglas Losordo

Dr. Douglas Losordo

Dr. Douglas Losordo

Chief Medical Officer, NeoStem

SFLF is pleased to introduce Dr. Douglas Losordo, a well-known cardiologist and an xpert in stem cell biology. The following interview with Dr. Losordo shares some of is insights in the field and his excitement about a future where cell therapies will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions.


Dr. Losordo, why did you choose to focus your career on adult stem cell therapies?
We in the field of cardiology have been extremely fortunate in the past
decade to have seen the treatment of patients with heart disease improve dramatically, with new drugs, procedures, and devices that keep people alive. However, despite the great improvements in saving lives, many of our patients are still disabled by their disease. This sad reality has always kept me searching for ways that the medical community can do better.

Was there a moment that inspired you to specialize in cell biology?
When I was in medical school, I had a roommate who had a daughter with a serious medical condition involving her arteries. I will skip the medical jargon, but the reality was that her condition was really serious. She had some serious complications along the way, but fast forward 15 years and this little girl was going off to college. She recovered from her injury because her young body figured out how to heal itself. That was one of a few moments that inspired me to think how we can recreate this healing and regeneration in adults.

How did we get to this precipice of a paradigm shift in medicine?
Two decades ago, scientists were vigorously exploring gene therapy, thinking if they could repair a gene, they could fix a defect or mutation at its source. Efforts quickly moved towards cells, proteins, RNAs–all trying to leverage the body’s natural pre-programmed biology, or as I like to say, using “nature’s toolkit” for repair. There are plenty of areas in the body where self-repair happens in adults every day. The skin repairs itself; the liver repairs itself- even some people who have heart attacks actually get better. The biology is sound. The question was how to harness it.
Tell us about your work in the lab of Dr. Jeffrey Isner, a celebrity in the field of adult stem cell research Dr. Isner was a beacon in the world of cardiovascular research. I worked with him and Dr. Takayuki Asahara to develop a program in therapeutic angiogenesis and cell-based tissue repair. Drs. Isner and Asahara were the first people to describe the existence of adult stem cells capable of forming blood vessels. Their paper changed the paradigm of blood vessel formation; we now understood that new blood vessels could be grown independent of existing vessels. We now had a tool for building new blood vessels in patients whose own vessels had been damaged by heart disease.

That sounds like an exciting time to be in the field. What else did this spark?
The research of Dr. Isner’s lab triggered the imagination of scientists who worked in different organ systems, and stem cells have now been discovered in every organ and tissue in the body. As science was advancing, new cell culturing techniques were leading to new applications and technologies. Today there are a number of small companies like NeoStem that are trying to move the field of adult stem cell therapies forward. The paradigm shift towards reversing chronic disease is really underway.

What do you see as the future for adult stem cell therapies?
The biology is solid, and now that the science has been borne out, doctors are beginning to appreciate the potential and get more excited about the possible use of adult stem cells. We need to continue our scientific exploration while carefully moving forward in clinical studies. Seeing evidence of benefit in human trials gets people excited. In recent years, stem cell sessions at medical conferences are usually the best attended. I believe that medical students in the year 2030 will use and embrace stem cell therapies as standard course of treatment and that we will look back at medical techniques used in the year 2000 with disbelief, and say “I can’t believe they used to do it that way.”

What do you see as the future for adult stem cell therapies?
The biology is solid, and now that the science has been borne out, doctors are beginning to appreciate the potential nd get more excited about the possible use of adult stem cells. We need to continue our scientific exploration while carefully moving forward in clinical studies. Seeing evidence of benefit in human trials gets people excited. In recent years, stem cell sessions at medical conferences are usually the best attended. I believe that medical students in the year 2030 will use and embrace stem cell therapies as standard course of treatment and that we will look back at medical techniques used in the year 2000 with disbelief, and say “I can’t believe they used to do it that way.”


About Dr. Losordo
Dr. Douglas Losordo is the Chief Medical Officer at NeoStem and previously the Director of the Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute at Northwestern University School of Medicine. His major research interests encompass angiogenesis/vasculogenesis, rogenitor/adult stem cells, tissue repair/regeneration, and vascular biology.