Government Funds World-First Research Into Multiple Sclerosis
Australian scientists searching for a better way to treat for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) using a world-first adult stem cell technique will benefit from an Australian Government grant.
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29 May 2012
Australian scientists searching for a better way to treat for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) using a world-first adult stem cell technique will benefit from a Gillard Government grant.
On the eve of World MS Day, Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek announced $1.75 million would be directed to Professor Claude Bernard and his renowned team of researchers at Monash University in Melbourne.
“MS is a severely debilitating disease, affecting about 21,000 Australians, that attacks the central nervous system and has no cure,” said Ms Plibersek.
“This research has the potential to transform the way we treat MS and greatly improve the lives of people living with this disease”.
Ms Plibersek said the university was using skin cells from people with MS to make induced pluripotent stem cells that can be genetically reprogrammed into brain cells affected by the disease.
“The production of a ready-made supply of human cells with MS in a laboratory is a significant step forward which will speed up our understanding of the disease and help develop new treatments.”
Previously scientists relied on samples of blood and spinal fluid from people with MS, autopsy tissue or the study of animals with a similar disease. Current treatments are only able to slow the progression of MS in about 30% of sufferers.
The grant, which was awarded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), will allow Professor Bernard and his team of researchers at Monash University and the CSIRO to work jointly with researchers at the University of California.
The Gillard Government grant forms the Australian component of international spending on the research in collaboration with US funding body, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The combined value of this international collaboration is more than $6 million.
“These researchers are using adult stem cells to produce a therapy that will not only stop on-going destruction of nerves which stimulate muscle movement – but also stimulate production and repair damaged nerves,” said NHMRC CEO, Professor Warwick Anderson said.
This announcement has been welcomed by MS Research Australia Chief Executive, Jeremy Wright.
““This is a great show of confidence and most importantly it may provide a vastly improved way to treat MS in the future. On behalf of all our supporters, many of whom have MS – we must say thank you to these two quality funding institutions for recognising the potential of this Monash research to deliver results,” said Mr Wright.
Coinciding with World MS Day is the culmination of MS Australia’s Kiss Goodbye to MS campaign which raises awareness and funds to solve MS.
For more information, please contact the Minister’s Office on 02 6277 7220
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