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COVID-19
Researchers at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), with other Melbourne-based partners, will use human stem cells to better understand the effects of COVID-19 on different organs after being awarded a State Government grant. Medical Research Minister Jaala Pulford today announced the stem cell initiative was among the projects to share in $5.5 million from the government’s COVID-19 Research Fund . The MCRI project has also received an additional $600,000 in philanthropic support from the Stafford Fox Medical Research Foundation (SFMRF). MCRI Theme Director of Cell Biology Professor Melissa Little said the project team would use human-derived stem cells to better understand the virus’s effects on different organ systems in the body including the lungs, heart, kidneys, brain, immune system and blood vessels, to support the development of targeted treatments. The collaborative study which includes The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity , The Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) ...Read more
Research News
Professor Melissa Little has been recognised for her outstanding contribution to genome research in Australia. Professor Little, Theme Director of Cell Biology at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI), was awarded the prestigious Julian Wells Medal at the Lorne GENOME Conference today where she will also deliver the Julian Wells Lecture. “Genome research has come such a long way,” she said. “Our ability to look at what each gene is doing cell by cell inside an organ as complex as the kidney really is amazing.” “Using this understanding to recreate human tissue is the next horizon.” Professor Little is internationally recognised for her work on kidney development. For more than two decades, her team has investigated the molecular and cellular basis of kidney development and disease. This basic research has underpinned her pioneering studies into potential regenerative therapies for kidney disease. In 2015, Professor Little and her team produced the ...Read more
Research News
A Melbourne research team has reproduced and visualised the earliest developmental steps in human immune cell production in the laboratory and are now set to advance our understanding of childhood diseases like leukemia and autoimmune conditions. One day the advance could lead to a patient’s own skin cells being used to produce new cells for cancer immunotherapy or to test autoimmune disease interventions. The group, led by Professors Ed Stanley and Andrew Elefanty , from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, said the work has added definitive evidence about how the body’s earliest immune cells are formed. These lymphocytes are produced by cells which form the embryo’s first organs rather than the blood-producing stem cells that sit inside the body’s bone marrow. The research combined two powerful laboratory techniques, genetic engineering and a novel way of growing stem cells, to make the breakthrough, which has been published in ...Read more
Institute News
Research into protecting premmie babies’ lungs, brain development and diabetes are among several Murdoch Children’s Research Institute projects to receive funding in the latest federal grants round. Researchers at MCRI have received five Ideas Grants and two Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grants, totalling more than $5 million through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and announced by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt. Professor Ed Stanley received $996,560 to develop treatments for type 1 diabetes. “We plan to make human immune cells and insulin producing cells in the laboratory, and to combine them together to see what causes the immune cells to mistakenly kill the cells that make insulin,” he said. “This model will then be used to find ways to prevent this attack, and therefore develop treatments for Type 1 diabetes.” Associate Professor David Tingay was allocated $894,316 to use imaging and molecular technologies to understand how ...Read more
Research News
3D ‘bioprinted’ stem-cell tissue could one day be used to treat end-stage kidney disease – the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and the Royal Children’s Hospital have announced that they will collaborate with a San Diego biotech company to create the ‘bioprinted tissue’. Melissa Little is a world leader in modelling human kidney In 2015, Prof Little and her team grew the first kidney organoid in a petri dish. “No larger than the tip of your finger, the lab-grown mini-kidneys have the hallmarks of a regular- sized kidney, including the tiny tubes and blood vessels that form nephrons, the organ’s filtering structures,” Prof Little said. “The mini-kidneys are already being used to better understand how kidneys develop and how kidney disease occurs. This new program hopes to develop new treatments.” Prof Little and Ton Rabelink from Leiden University in The Netherlands will now team up with Organovo to create a ...Read more
Institute News
Ongoing contributions to kidney research have seen MCRI’s Professor Melissa Little receive the prestigious Alfred Newton Richards Award at the World Congress of Nephrology in Melbourne today. The biennial award recognises Prof. Little’s “superb and sustained achievements” in nephrology research over many years, particularly her work in developing mini-kidneys and regenerative treatments for kidney disease. “I am very proud to receive this esteemed award, and it is even more special with the World Congress of Nephrology taking in place in Melbourne where I undertake my research,” Prof. Little said. “I’d like to thank the ISN committee for this recognition and also take the opportunity to pay tribute to the dedicated and passionate researchers who work alongside me at MCRI.” Over the past 25 years, Prof. Little’s research has looked at how the kidney normally forms at the level of the genes and cells involved. With this knowledge of kidney cell ...Read more
Research News
Image credit: Associate Professor James Hudson Australian scientists have conducted the first ever screening of potential heart regeneration drugs using bioengineered human heart muscle – a move that could revolutionise how heart drugs are developed in the future. The four-year study has been published today in the journal Cell Stem Cell. It was led by researchers from QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Melbourne, in collaboration with researchers from global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. Lead author and head of QIMR Berghofer’s Organoid Research Laboratory, Associate Professor James Hudson, said the study also identified two potential drug candidates that may help regenerate damaged heart tissue without negative side effects on heart function. “Currently potential new drugs are tested on heart cells or in mice but those tests don’t always accurately replicate the effects on human hearts,” Associate Professor Hudson said. “About 90 per cent ...Read more
Research News
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 ...Read more
Research News
MCRI's Professor Melissa Little was presented with an honorary doctorate from Leiden University in Amsterdam on Friday, 8 February at a ceremony celebrating the university's 444th birthday. Prof Little was recognised for her "exceptional research into potential regenerative therapies for chronic kidney diseases, in the field of systems biology of kidney development". "Her scientific discoveries could help solve the shortage of donor organs," said nephrologist Ton Rabelink in his laudatio for Little. "Little and her team managed to grow a fully working piece of kidney tissue in a petri dish, and this application is now used all around the world. This work radically alters the perspective of patients with a kidney disease; from chronic disease to cure." Each year, two faculties nominate an individual who has made a substantial contribution to the development of one of the faculty's areas of research. These two scientists each receive an honorary doctorate. In ...Read more
Research News
Press release from the office of Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health The Liberal National Government is providing nearly $1 million in funding to a medical research project that will use human stem cells to develop kidneys as an alternative for renal replacement. It is estimated that one in ten Australians will show evidence of chronic kidney disease by 2020, but only one in four patients will receive a transplant. Chronic kidney disease is rising in incidence by six per cent percent per annum and there is an acute need to develop new therapies. With funding allocated from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Professor Melissa Little from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute will receive $936,221 for her research project. Her research is part of a regenerative medicine project in which human stem cells are used to develop kidneys with functioning tissue as an alternative for renal replacement. ...Read more