Stem cell research to tackle blindness and congenital heart disease in kids

The Medical Research Future Fund has announced a $3 million investment into stem cell research conducted by Stem Cells Australia (SCA).

The Florey is a founding member of the consortium, administered by the University of Melbourne, which also includes the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, WEHI and CSIRO.

The investment enables Stem Cells Australia to advance several projects directly supporting patients.

This cutting edge science offers new ways to repair parts of the body through stem cell therapy.

It has now advanced to the stage where scientists can develop and test the effectiveness of new therapies and medicines.

Research projects include those tackling congenital heart disease and genetic defects that cause blindness in kids.

Among them is a project searching for treatments for inherited blindness, aiming to save the sight of affected children.

Researchers can build a model of a human eye from a patient’s stem cells. Using this approach, they will carry out a unique human-based approach to determine whether this treatment is likely to work.

Another project aims to repair and reconstruct heart muscle for kids with heart defects.

A national heart stem cell network is modelling heart disease. This will improve heart repair by recreating heart tissue to treat kids with congenital heart disease.

More than 2000 children are born with major heart defects in Australia each year.

Stem Cells Australia is also involved in the Florey’s efforts to discover new drugs to treat motor neurone disease.

This project turns MND patient skin cells into stem cells, and then into motor neurones. New drugs can then be tested on the cells, aiming to improve their health and survival.

Find more information on this and other projects in our Research Project directory.