13 March 2019

$150 million for stem cell medical research

The Liberal National Government is investing $150 million to advance stem cell research that could potentially grow kidneys, repair damaged spinal cords and cure dementia for patients in Corangamite.

Federal Member for Corangamite, Sarah Henderson, said the establishment of the $150 million 10-year Australian Stem Cell Therapies Mission, funded through the Government’s landmark Medical Research Future Fund, will 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,” Ms Henderson said.

Health Minister, Greg Hunt, said this mission will 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,” Minister Hunt said.

“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 having chronic kidney disease, one in three children having inheritable disease and approximately 53 Australians dying every day from related kidney disease.

“Stem cell medicine’s benefits are not only about individual health but the economic potential immense,” Ms Henderson said.

“It has been 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.”

Health Minister Greg 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,” Minister Hunt said.

“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.”

It is the single largest boost in health and medical research funding in Australia’s history.

Since 2013 we have provided $506.6 million for stem cell research through the National Health and Medical Research Council.

13 March 2019