Researcher in a laboratory

A global stem cell research collaboration that will develop new treatments for cancer, diabetes and heart disease has been launched at the Murdoch Children’s Research Centre (MCRI).

Speech at the ReNew launch eventThe Melbourne node of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Medicine (reNEW) was announced today by State Medical Research Minister Jaala Pulford alongside Murdoch Children’s Director Professor Kathryn North

The reNEW partnership between the Murdoch Children's, the University of Copenhagen, and Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands will bring together experts from around the world, harnessing their collective experience around stem cell disease modelling for drug development, cellular therapies for tissue regeneration and translational regenerative medicine. The consortium will develop new drugs and therapies using human stem cells, offering hope to patients with currently untreatable conditions. 

The partnership, that will place Victoria on the international stage for regenerative medicine, is expected to stimulate a new wave of global investment in stem cell medicine and technologies, creating highly skilled jobs in this advancing medical field.

“I am very excited about the amazing opportunity that reNEW represents. This will enable outcomes across the breadth of stem cell medicine – new drugs based on human stem cell models, cell and tissue therapies and new cell and gene therapies,” said reNEW CEO Professor Melissa Little.

The State Government has committed $1 million in funding as part of Budget 2022-23 towards a business case for the expansion of the Murdoch Children‘s in order to elevate the new centre’s capabilities and lead stem cell research on the global stage.

“Stem cell medicine provides new hope for children and families facing some of their toughest health challenges, and we are committed to supporting our researchers through innovative projects so they can change lives,” said Minister Pulford during the launch event.

Group of researchers at the ReNew launch eventThe business case will consider requirements for GMP-certified facilities, cell-line manufacturing, pre-clinical studies, and space for early-stage cell and gene therapy companies, to best support the research goals of the reNEW consortium.

“This represents an opportunity to continue to build on our stem cell expertise and capabilities at reNEW Melbourne and the Melbourne Children’s Campus, and advance us towards delivering innovative stem cell-based therapies to transform the lives of children with incurable disease,” said Associate Professor Enzo Porrello, Node Director of reNEW Melbourne (pictured above, with Melissa Little, Jaala Pulford, Lyndall and Mia Cowley).

The reNEW Melbourne node will also include Murdoch Children’s Immune Development Group Leader Professor Ed Stanley as Deputy Node Director, as well as Professor Andrew ElefantyAssociate Professor Elizabeth NgAssociate Professor Silvia VelascoAssociate Professor David Elliott and Professor Megan Munsie.

The centre has been made possible through a record stem cell medicine grant of up to EUR$300 million over 10 years from the Novo Nordisk Foundation, an international philanthropic foundation based in Denmark, which focuses on medical treatment and research.

Watch the recording of the launch below: