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Funding to advance research into stem-cell based therapies

Research News
Published: 
Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - 1:44pm

Stem Cells Australia and The University of Melbourne have welcomed $150 million Federal Government funding towards research into new ways to treat congenital heart disease, blindness, stroke, dementia and kidney disease.

The Australian Stem Cell Therapies Mission, funded through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant, will enable critical stem cell research to continue.

This includes using stem cells to find new drugs to stimulate heart repair or improve function, helping patients with corneal damage or cataracts to see again, or making immune cells from stem cell to assist repair in neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

Stem Cells Australia Program Leader and University of Melbourne Professor Melissa Little, who is also Cell Biology Theme Director at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, said stem cell science has been a strength within Australian biomedical research for many decades.

“We are the stage where we can now apply what we have learnt in the lab to the clinic, impacting the future of medicine,” Professor Little said.

“New treatments will need to be carefully designed and evaluated. This mission will allow Australian patients and researchers an opportunity to contribute to next generation medicine.”

University of Melbourne’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Jim McCluskey welcomed the announcement as a major boost to Australia’s community of outstanding researchers working on stem cells and regenerative medicine.

“In particular, this will build on the work of Stem Cells Australia, a publicly-funded partnership with The University of Melbourne, other Australian universities, and medical research institutes,” Professor McCluskey said.

“This funding, in addition to funding last year for research into treatments for blindness in children and congenital heart disease, will allow researchers to continue their important work into improving the quality of health of people living with debilitating conditions.”

About Stem Cells Australia:

Stem Cells Australia was established in 2011 with the support of the Australian Government, through the Australian Research Council’s Special Research Initiatives scheme. The research consortium aimed to discover how to regulate stem cells and use this understanding to harness the potential of stem cells for diagnostic, therapeutic and biotechnological purposes. Stem Cells Australia links over 300 experts in bioengineering, nanotechnology, stem cell biology, advanced molecular analysis and clinical research across Australian universities and research institutes.

Stem Cells Australia was instigated by The University of Melbourne, University of Queensland, Monash University, University of NSW, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute joined the consortium in 2016. The University of Sydney, Western Sydney University, University of Wollongong, University of Tasmania and University of Western Australia joined the initiative in 2018. The University of Melbourne remains the administering organisation.