$25 million to boost stem cell research in Australia

The Hon Greg Hunt MP

Minister for Health and Aged Care

The Morrison Government is boosting Australian led stem cell research through $25 million in grants, to help find and develop innovative, safe and effective treatments for devastating diseases and injuries.

Through the Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), the Stem Cell Therapies Mission is investing $150 million over 10 years to support world-leading stem cell research, which will improve health outcomes, in partnership with patients and carers.

Up to $25 million is available over five years from 2021-22 through two funding streams –

  • Stream 1 – up to $15m: to support the development of novel stem-cell based treatments by disease-focused large-scale multidisciplinary teams.
  • Stream 2 up to $10m: to support large-scale projects that will focus on pre-clinical evaluation and screening of new treatments using human tissues made from stem cells involving large-scale multi-disciplinary teams.

To receive grants, projects must be working towards a final product or therapy, have a feasible pathway to market, and consider the ethical, legal and social issues associated with the treatment.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said previous projects funded by the Mission are already starting to show promising results.

“These early, yet promising findings, show that our Mission is on track to develop and deliver safe and effective stem cell medicines and treatments that will benefit all Australians who need them,” Minister Hunt said.

“Australia is taking a lead role in stem cell research, and I encourage all stem cell researchers to consider applying for these grants, which will help improve and save lives.”

Previous projects funding through the MRFF Stem Cell Therapies Grant include Professor Peter Currie and his team at Monash University, who have identified a new function for a molecule to activate the body’s own muscle stem cells to repair injury or disease. This finding could change treatment options for tens of thousands of Australians who experience the debilitating effects of muscle injuries and wasting diseases.

Also recipients of previous grant funding, the Council of Queensland Institute of Medical Research researchers have found that inflammation is likely the primary driver of cardiac injury in COVID-19 patients. They have identified a class of drugs that could prevent this and will shortly begin a Phase II clinical study to determine safety and efficacy.

The grants are being offered in line with the Morrison Government’s recently released Stem Cell Therapies Mission Roadmap and Implementation Plan.

These key strategic documents will ensure the Mission remains focused on the priorities determined by an expert advisory panel, led by co-chairs Professor Melissa Little and Professor Mark Kendall.

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