From sheep fertility and IVF to growing complex organs: Melbourne’s stem cell story

Stem cell scientists gather in the city of landmark discoveries

The International Society for Stem Cell Research 2018 Annual Meeting brings the field’s scientists to a country and city with a rich stem cell research heritage.

Bone marrow transplants to treat blood cancers and other blood disorders were the first stem cell treatments. In the 1960s, Don Metcalf at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne discovered colony stimulating factors, the molecules that stimulate stem cells to multiply and mature, which revolutionised bone marrow transplants and the treatment of blood diseases.

Opera singer Jose Carreras, one of the millions of people who have had this stem cell treatment for leukaemia, credits his survival to Don Metcalf.

Around this time, wool was one of Australia’s top exports, but Australian merino sheep were having fewer lambs than their overseas counterparts. Sheep fertility and animal reproduction research received a massive funding boost in the 1960s and 1970s. [continue reading…]

ISSCR Opposes Proposal to Restrict Fetal Tissue Research

Media release issued by ISSCR

The ISSCR, the largest professional organization of stem cell researchers from around the world, opposes the U.S. House of Representatives proposal to ban federal funding for fetal tissue research. ISSCR President Hans Clevers released the following statement:

“There is no scientific or ethical basis for the proposed restriction on fetal tissue research, which would roll back decades of consensus in the U.S., irreparably delaying the development of new medical treatments. Research using fetal tissue has saved millions of lives through the development of vaccines for diseases that once ravaged communities across the world. Polio is now almost eradicated, and rubella, measles, chickenpox, and rabies are all preventable diseases because of fetal tissue research. [continue reading…]

ISSCR Responds to President Trump Signing ‘Right to Try’ Law

Media release issued by ISSCR

The ISSCR is disappointed with the enactment of the ‘Right to Try’ law. Along with more than 100 patient and research groups opposing the bill, we believe it will put patients at risk and undermine the effective FDA Expanded Access Program already in place to give seriously ill patients access to experimental treatments.

“Instead of helping patients, this law will harm patients by providing a route for snake-oil salesman to evade regulation and sell unproven and scientifically dubious therapies to patients,” said ISSCR President Hans Clevers. “In recent months, several patients have been blinded by clinics administering unproven stem cell interventions for eye disease. The Right to Try bill only emboldens bad actors looking for ways to take advantage of desperate patients,” he said. [continue reading…]

ISSCR 2018 to Highlight Research Driving New Discoveries and Advances in Regenerative Medicine

Media release issued by ISSCR

Progress in stem cell research and its translation to medicine is the focus of the International Society for Stem Cell Research annual meeting 20-23 June at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre in Melbourne, Australia. More than 3,000 stem cell scientists, bioethicists, clinicians, and industry professionals from over 50 countries will share and discuss the latest discoveries and technologies within the field, and how they are advancing regenerative medicine.

The ISSCR annual meeting is the world’s largest meeting focused on stem cell research, with lectures, workshops, poster presentations, and a dynamic exhibition floor with nearly 100 exhibitors. Presentations span the breadth of the field, including topics such as cell-based disease modeling, gene editing and gene therapy, neural, cardiac, blood and other developmental systems and their diseases, and potential breakthrough therapies currently being tested in clinical trials, among others. [continue reading…]

ISSCR Announces Recipients of 2018 Awards

Media release issued by ISSCR

The ISSCR today announces the recipients of its 2018 awards, to be presented at the society’s annual meeting, 20-23 June in Melbourne, Australia.

  • ISSCR Award for Innovation: Michele De Luca, MD, and Graziella Pellegrini, PhD, Full Professors at the University of Modena e Reggio Emilia, Center for Regenerative Medicine, University of Modena e Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy;
  • ISSCR Dr. Susan Lim Award for Outstanding Young Investigator: Shuibing Chen, PhD, Associate Professor of Chemical Biology in Surgery and in Biochemistry, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, NY, U.S.;
  • ISSCR Tobias Award Lecture: Connie Eaves, PhD, FRS (Canada), Distinguished Scientist, Terry Fox Laboratory, BC Cancer, and Professor of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada;
  • Public Service Award: Megan Munsie, PhD, Associate Professor and Deputy Director, Centre for Stem Cell Systems, The University of Melbourne, and Head of Education, Ethics, Law & Community Awareness Unit, Stem Cells Australia, The University of Melbourne, Australia.

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Better batteries for electric cars; smartphone testing for diseases & clean water; Nobel Laureate who transformed fuels, plastic and drugs; and more

Thursday 27 July 2017, at the RACI Centenary Chemistry Congress, Melbourne Convention Centre

Today at the Centenary Chemistry Congress

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The inventor of the nanocar; the man who unboiled an egg is now unfolding a $160 billion industry; confusing insects so they can’t mate; and more

Wednesday, 26 July 2017, at the RACI Centenary Chemistry Congress, Melbourne Convention Centre

Today at the Centenary Chemistry Congress

From a molecular motor to the nanocar and beyond: 2016 chemistry Nobel Prize recipient Ben Feringa is speaking in Melbourne and available for interview today and Thursday. More below.

The man who unboiled an egg: Colin Raston won an IgNobel Prize in 2015 for unboiling an egg. Now he and his team are taking the technology to market. And it’s set to transform the $160 protein folding industry. More below.

A pheromone-based alternative to insecticides; and cleaner, greener household products: Frances Arnold is confusing insects so they can’t mate (a bit like spraying bad perfume). And James Clark wants to take the fossil fuels out of solvents used in paint and cleaning products. More below.

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Solutions: Dr Alan Finkel’s opening address

Monday 24 July 2017, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Dr Alan Finkel AO delivered the opening address to the Royal Australian Chemical Institute Centenary Congress in Melbourne. The speech was titled ‘Solutions’.


It is a great honour to pay tribute to one of Australia’s most stable compounds: the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, in its centenary year.

Thousands of chemists, in high concentration, in my home town.

I grew up in the era when junior chemistry kits were the rage and children were encouraged to invent their own fun.

You could say that I was an inventive youth.

And one of the first things I discovered was that magnesium ribbons could be burned for entertainment, and zinc dust and sulphur powder could make rocket fuel.

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Chemical terrorism a stark reality; periodic table on a hair; how water and CO2 can replace toxic solvents; wood waste into green chemistry; and more

Tuesday, 25 July 2017, at the RACI Centenary Chemistry Congress, Melbourne Convention Centre

Nobel Peace Prize winner on eliminating chemical weapons

While the threat of countries using chemical weapons has diminished, “chemical terrorism is no longer a theoretical proposition or even imminent threat, but a stark reality,” according to His Excellency Mr Ahmet Üzümcü.

Winner of the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, Mr Üzümcü is the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

In 2013, the OPCW along with the United Nations and 30 partner countries participated in an operation to remove all the chemical weapons declared by the Syrian Arab Republic.

Since then, the OPCW has remained engaged in Syria through an ongoing fact-finding mission to establish whether chemical weapons have been used in Syria.

They’re also keeping a close eye on North Korea, one of only four countries who haven’t yet joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, an international treaty outlawing the production, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons. The treaty came into force 20 years ago.

Limited availability for interviews – talk is at 2.30pm.

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