THE federal government is investing $150 million to advance stem cell research.
Corangamite federal member Sarah Henderson, said the establishment of the 10-year Australian Stem Cell Therapies Mission, funded through the government’s Medical Research Future Fund, would enable the momentum around stem cell science to continue.
“Funding from this mission will accelerate the investigation of the use of stem cells from fat, cord blood, bone marrow and foetal tissue as possible treatments for spinal cord injuries.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt said this mission could also find new hope for patients with dementia, as stem cells can grow into brain cells and as a result may have the potential to repair brain damage caused by neurological conditions.
“Stem cell treatments applied through regenerative medicine, precision medicine and synthetic biology will provide new, targeted and more effective treatments.
“They will reduce the burden of disease on patients and carers. They will enhance equity in health care by addressing unmet clinical needs.
“Human stem cells are also currently being used to develop kidneys with functioning tissue as an alternative for renal replacement. This mission could fast-track the use of these kidneys in humans.”
Ms Henderson said one in 10 Australians have chronic kidney disease, one in three children have inheritable disease and approximately 53 Australians die every day from related kidney disease.
“Stem cell medicine’s benefits are not only about individual health, but the economic potential is immense.
“It is estimated that if Australia were to capture a five per cent share of the burgeoning regenerative medicine market, this would represent $6 billion in annual revenue and create approximately 6,000 jobs.
“Stem cell medicine is poised to become a core part of mainstream health care. It will transform and save the lives of people with incurable diseases.”
Mr Hunt said the establishment of the Australian Stem Cell Therapies Mission is the first step in a coordinated effort to stimulate regenerative medicine research and industry in Australia.
“Our government is able to provide unprecedented levels of support to health and medical research because of our strong economic management.
“This funding is made available through our landmark Medical Research Future Fund — an endowment fund which will mature at $20 billion, providing a sustainable source of funding for vital medical research.”