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Funding boost for research into curing child blindness

22/08/2018By Matthew Woodley
The Federal Government has committed $3 million towards stem cell research that will in part focus on tackling blindness in children.

The funding, which has been awarded to the University of Melbourne (UniMelb) and Stem Cells Australia (SCA), will facilitate the use of stem cells to test new ways to save the sight of children with rare genetic defects.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the funding would help maintain the continuity and momentum of SCA’s “vital work”.

“This cutting edge science offers new ways to repair parts of the body through stem cell therapy. It is possible to build a model of a human eye from a patient’s stem cells and by using this approach researchers will carry out a unique human-based approach to determine whether this treatment is likely to work,” Hunt said.

SCA program leader Professor Melissa Little said stem cell science had advanced to the stage where it can now impact future medical treatments.

“We can use stem cells to assess whether a new drug or gene therapy is safe and effective, as well as explore how to repair parts of the body through stem cell therapy,” Little said.

“This funding will go a long way in helping our research.”

SCA is a national research consortium hosted by UniMelb which partners with 14 universities and medical research institutes.

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