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Centenary Institute - Medical Research
Centenary Institute - Medical Research

Prof John Rasko AO and collaborators publish world-first clinical stem cell study

Professor John Rasko AO, Head of the Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Program at the Centenary Institute and Head of the Department of Cell and Molecular Therapies at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital has led a world-first clinical trial into engineered stem cell treatment use.

Published in the prestigious science journal Nature Medicine, Professor Rasko and a team of international collaborators used human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) derived mesenchymal stromal cells to treat 15 patients with steroid-resistant acute graft-versus-host disease (GvHD).

“Graft-versus-host disease is a serious complication of bone-marrow transplantation. This is where donated bone marrow derived T-cells attack the body’s immune system following transplantation,” said Professor Rasko.

“Our study used these engineered iPSC derived mesenchymal stromal cells to treat the 15 patients who were suffering from GvHD. The cells were extremely promising in helping  suppress the immune attack taking place. Critically, our results provide solid preliminary support for the key principle that these cells can be used safely and effectively in human beings.”

Professor Rasko says that the successful therapeutic application of these stem cells for GvHD also opens the door to their potential use for other diverse inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases.

To hear more from Professor Rasko about this research, you can listen to his interview on Radio National with Fran Kelly (click to the 1 hr: 41 min: 30 sec mark).

Publication: Production, safety and efficacy of iPSC-derived mesenchymal stromal cells in acute steroid-resistant graft versus host disease: a phase I, multicenter, open-label, dose-escalation study.

Further information on Professor Rasko and his research can be found here.

Centenary Institute research boost with NHMRC Investigator Grants

Professor Philip Hansbro, Deputy Director at the Centenary Institute and Professor John Rasko AO, Head of the Centenary Institute’s Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Program have both been awarded prestigious National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grants. The Investigator Grants scheme is one of the NHMRC’s new flagship funding arrangements supporting outstanding health and medical researchers.

Professor Philip Hansbro’s funding will support further research into the development of new preventions and treatments for chronic respiratory diseases.

“Respiratory diseases are among the leading causes of all deaths world-wide,” says Professor Hansbro.

“This grant will fund our research into developing a comprehensive ‘molecular map’ for specific respiratory diseases including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), lung cancer and severe asthma. This will increase our knowledge of how these diseases develop and progress, providing us with new opportunities to attempt treatments and cures.”

Professor John Rasko AO, Head of the Centenary Institute’s Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Program and Head of Department, Cell & Molecular Therapies at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital will receive funding for his research focused on driving clinical cell and gene therapy in Australia.

“Harnessing the power of our body’s own cells and genetic therapies, we are witnessing a medical revolution in curing serious diseases including hereditary bleeding and anaemia as well as specific forms of cancer. This new federal funding will facilitate our internationally acclaimed basic and clinical research Program designed to improve the health of Australians”, says Professor Rasko.

Read the full media release here.