Peter Mac researchers have been supported by the federal government’s MRFF Stem Cell Therapies Mission to investigate new stem cell-based therapies for diseases including leukemia and vision loss through macular degeneration.

Peter Mac’s Prof Mark Dawson will lead a team, including Cancer Therapeutics CRC’s Prof Brendon Monahan and Dr Paul Stupple, focused on understanding the properties of leaukemia stem cells (LSC) in acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

In particular, the team aims to develop new therapeutic approaches to specifically target and eradicate LCS’s in people with AML.

“LSCs are known to cause many of the clinical problems associated with AML, including resistance to different types of treatment,” explains study lead, Prof Dawson.

“New therapies aimed at eliminating LSCs will therefore likely be more effective than current therapies and offer significant benefits to patients with this often aggressive and deadly disease, both in Australia and around the world.”

A/Prof Kaylene Simpson, Head of Peter Mac’s Victorian Centre for Functional Genomics (VCFG) will co-lead a study, in collaboration with the University of Melbourne’s Prof Alice Pebay and other colleagues at the University of Melbourne and University of Tasmania, into better treatments for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD is a leading cause of irreversible vision loss, and there is currently no way to prevent or cure this disease.

“We will use the state-of-the-art facilities at VCFG to study thousands of clinically relevant drugs in an innovative patient-derived stem cell model to fast-track the discovery of new therapeutic approaches to tackle AMD,” says A/Prof Simpson

Peter Mac’s Prof Dominic Wall is also an investigator in a third study funded through this scheme, aimed at using stem cells to treat Parkinson’s Disease, led by A/Prof Lachlan Thomas from the University of Melbourne and the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.