Experts join forces to address the future of stem cell research in Australia

- The challenges of taking stem cell therapy tomarket - 

Australian stem cell experts are joining forces to address the future of stem cell research in Australia and the critical gap in taking innovative stem cell therapies to patients. 

Over 100 clinicians, scientists, policy makers, investors, IP lawyers, patient advocates, pharma and biotech executives are participating in the Workshop - Innovating the Marketplace with Stem Cells - hosted by the NSW Stem Cell Network to take a serious look at this vital issue facing Australia’s stem cell industry.

Professor Bernie Tuch, Founder and Director of the NSW Stem Cell Network said that Australia is the birth place of innovative ideas in stem cell research and therapies and has demonstrated some commercial success with companies like Mesoblast (ASX:MSB) whilst at the University of NSW, stem cell clinical trials for the treatment of a corneal eye disease are very promising showing a potential therapeutic application. 

The problem is that the Australian industry is plagued by a loss of our IP, talent and manufacture to countries abroad, that are better supported with commercialisation and investment opportunities.

‘A collective effort is needed to push this industry forward. Basic researchers need to become educated as to the part they play in getting their technology to patients and interactions need to improve between Australia’s researchers, clinicians, commercial and regulatory bodies towards driving realistic solutions.’

‘The US, Switzerland, Germany, the UK, many countries are currently running clinical trials for which we have the expertise in Australia, many even utilise Australian technologies. We cannot miss the chance to lead this industry bysitting back and waiting’, said Professor Tuch.

As a diabetes clinician and CSIRO pluripotent stem cell researcher, Dr Tuch says chronic lack of funding inhibits the Australian stem cell industry from being able to offer treatments to patients. With multiple stem cell sources and therapeutic options available for each human disease, now is the time to invest in and support the clinical and commercial development of stem cell technologies. 

Dr Paul Brock is an advocate of stem cell technologies in Australia and Vice-Patron of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, of NSW says ’As one who spent a lot of time and energy publicly arguing for the adoption of the eventually successful Federal stem cell legislation in 2002 and 2006, I have been disappointed atwhat has appeared to me to have been the slow take up of Australian research projects utilising the legislative green light given to embryonic stem cellresearch and somatic cell nuclear transfer research by those Bills.  

Though we have strongresearch and brilliant minds in Australia we have failed our stem cell industry on multiple occasions. It is time for proper planning and effective communications to promote investment in our stem cell industry and subsequent Aussie grown products to the patient’ said Dr Tuch.



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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