World First Stem Cell Bank Paves The Way For Research Breakthroughs

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11th October 2010, 11:39am - Views: 527
World First Stem-Cell Bank Paves the Way for Research Breakthroughs

Sydney IVF and the Australian-based FSHD Global Research Foundation have established the world's first Facio-Scapulo-Humeral Dystrophy (FSHD) human embryonic stem cell bank, which will aid medical research into one of the world's most common forms of muscular dystrophy.

FSHD causes progressive and irreversible weakness and wasting of muscles in the body, severely affecting a person's mobility and quality of life.

The FSHD stem cell bank will give local and global researchers free access to investigate specific treatments for the disease by testing potential drugs on the cellular FSHD model system.

According to Dr Tomas Stojanov, Sydney IVF, Director of Research and Development, disease-specific stem cell lines are considered a cutting-edge tool for researchers and drug developers and are far more efficient and accurate than tests using mice or tissue biopsies.

"Stem cell banks are an enabling tool that greatly accelerate the speed of the trial and error process of discovering new treatments," said Dr Stojanov.
"The Sydney IVF stem cell bank is the first of its kind reported for FSHD and presents a major breakthrough in finding potential treatments for this devastating disease," said Dr Stojanov.

The establishment of the stem cell bank comes from research funded by the FSHD Global Research Foundation, an organisation set up by former Macquarie Bank Executive Director Bill Moss AM, who has FSHD.

"FSHD has been largely neglected by Governments and medical researchers in the past. Our Foundation is trying to correct this imbalance and the creation of the world's first FSHD stem cell bank in Sydney is a huge step in that process.

"Our hope is that one of the unique FSHD stem cell lines from this bank will one day critically assist a research team in finding a cure or treatment for this debilitating disease," concluded Bill Moss AM.

Thanks to a novel freezing and thawing technique developed by Sydney IVF, the cells can be handled with greater ease than normal, enabling use by FSHD researchers who do not possess specific stem cell expertise. Coupled with customised bioassays provided by Sydney IVF for the identification and testing of FSHD effective drugs, significant research barriers have been broken down.

Thanks to FSHD Global's strategy of supporting research into FSHD across the world, the stem cell bank is already being utilised in a range of national and international scientific projects including studies in the United States, Singapore, and The Netherlands.

The FSHD Global Research Foundation is currently funding seven FSHD research projects in different locations around the world, including at Sydney IVF and Monash University in Australia.

About Sydney IVF

Human embryonic stem cells have various applications in basic and medical research. They are expected to become a very valuable tool in the fight against currently incurable devastating diseases.

Very early on Sydney IVF recognised this potential and thus re-invests about 10% of annual revenues into Stem Cell Research. Sydney IVF are now on the forefront of Australian Stem Cell Research and has under Research involving human embryos Act 2002 derived the first human embryonic stem cell line in Australia.

Sydney IVF's stem cell division continues its research and development program in order to make the benefits of stem cell technology available to both the health care industry and national and international academic research institutions.

About the FSHD Global Research Foundation
Is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to finding a treatment and cure for FSHD. The Foundation's mission is to increase the rate of global research into FSHD as well as encourage significant global fund-raising to support research projects.

About FSHD FSHD is characterised by progressive muscle weakness and loss of skeletal muscles FSHD occurs in both males and females, and it can affect children and adults of all ages and all racial groups There is no known treatment or cure for FSHD. For a full background visit: www.fshdglobal.org

INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE
Dr Tomas Stojanov Research Director, Sydney IVF
Or Bill Moss AM, Founder FSHD Global Research Foundation

For further information including organising an interview please contact:
Cheryl Pettinau
cheryl.pettinau@publicislifebrands.com.au
Ph: (02) 9006 2943
M: 0424 15 77 14

Katie Higgins
katie@zmmgroup.com
M: 0405 415 005

SOURCE: SIVF


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