Funding to advance research into stem-cell based therapies

Image of senior university members with Minister Greg Hunt.
Left to right: University of Melbourne Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Jim McCluskey, Australian National University Professor Mark Kendall, Minister Greg Hunt and University of Melbourne Professor Melissa Little pictured here with patient Ms Sheree Consadine (middle).

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 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 BiologyTheme 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 at 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 Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) 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.”