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Trans-Pacific funding for

MS stem cell research partnership


Australian and Californian scientists searching for a better way to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) using a world-first adult stem cell technique will benefit from a major, joint Australian and Californian government grant.  

MS Research Australia and the Trish Foundation have been funding Professor Claude Bernard and his research scholars and fellows, research that led to his recent findings and this grant.  

Australian Federal Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek has announced $1.75 million of Australian government funds will be directed to Professor Claude Bernard and his team of researchers at Monash University and Dr Andrew Laslett and Dr Carmel O’Brien from the CSIRO in Melbourne. This funding is in conjunction with a $4.7 million grant from the Californian Institute of Regenerative Medicine to their collaborators at the University of California, Irvine.  

Currently available therapies can help to control the unpredictable relapses of MS. However, for those with progressive forms of the disease there are no treatments that can halt or reverse the nerve damage.  

This significant grant will allow Professor Bernard and his Australian team to work jointly with researchers at the University of California. The Trans-Pacific team will pool their respective expertise in experimental models of MS and human stem cell technology to develop a stem cell treatment, which they hope will help promote the repair and regeneration of damaged neurons.  

They will be using re-programmed human skin cells to make induced pleuripotent stem (iPS) cells. iPS cells behave like embryonic stem cells and can grow into many different cell types including the support cells of the brain such as myelin-producing cells.   

The team will conduct pre-clinical testing of the cells in laboratory models of MS to confirm their potential to repair the brain. They will also develop and test the technology needed to reliably produce the human stem cells to the standards required for future clinical trials in people with MS.   

This announcement has been welcomed by MS Research Australia Chief Executive, Jeremy Wright.  

“This level of international collaboration, in funding and research, is the way we’ll solve MS. It also recognises the quality of Australian MS research within the global effort,” said Mr Wright.

Trish Foundation & MS Research Australia Working together to find a cure for MS
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