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Catholic Church backs the use of adult stem cells and funds new research


The Archdiocese of Sydney is to award their 7th $100,000 grant to support adult stem cell research in Australia.

The Catholic Church is helping to fund research using non-embryonic (adult) stem cells to help provide solutions to many debilitating and widespread conditions and diseases.

In 2003 when the grants program was launched, Cardinal George Pell said, ‘Adult stem cell research has provided healing and hope without any destruction to human life and without all the problems to which embryonic stem cell research gives rise’.

The Church has invited stem cell researchers to apply for this year’s grant. The criteria specifies that the research must meet the highest standards of scientific excellence, with further considerations being given to the therapeutic applications likely to arise from the research. The researchers who are successful in their application must have a track record of success in undertaking similar or related research.

The first grant in 2003 was awarded for research in the treatment of Parkinson’s using adult stem cells, and was awarded to Professor Alan Mackay-Sim. His research also extended to nerve cell regeneration which could offer new treatments for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and traumatic spinal cord injury.

The 2005 award went to Dr Printinder Kaur for stem cell research into treating catastrophic burns.

The 2007 award was specifically related to stem cells from teeth and was awarded to Associate Professor Stan Gronthos and Dr Simon Koblar. The research showed promising results in the treatment of strokes. The cells taken from dental pulp could be the key to overcoming the paralysis, cognitive impairment and brain damage from strokes which affect 60,000 Australians every year and is the leading cause of disability.

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