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Australia Recognized Globally as Stem Cell Research Hub

Australia Recognized Globally as Stem Cell Research Hub

PHILADELPHIA, June 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Australia, known globally for its biotech R&D capabilities and strengths in human therapeutics, agribiotech, diagnostics, medical devices and biodiscovery, will has some of its best in stem cell research capabilities on show at BIO 2005.

While human cloning is currently prohibited in Australia, embryonic and adult stem cell research is allowed. Australia continues to lead the world in stem cell research with innovative programs now underway to develop potential treatments for diabetes, Parkinson's and heart disease.

Studies currently underway at Australia's government backed Australian Stem Cell Centre [ASCC], and some of its collaborative partner institutions, include development of potential therapies for:
* Congestive cardiac failure * Hematological disorders * Respiratory diseases * Disease and injury of the kidney
The ASCC announced at BIO 2005 that, as testament to the nation's standing in the stem cell arena, the International Society for Stem Cell Research's annual meeting will, for the first time meet outside North America -- in the Australian city of Cairns in the State of Queensland, in 2007.

Dr Anna Lavelle, the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of AusBiotech, Australia's peak biotech industry organization, said Australia has been actively involved in R&D in this area.

In 1980 the first IVF birth in Australia was reported. In 1983 Australia announced the world's first egg donor baby and the development of embryo freezing technology that resulted in the first frozen embryo baby.

"Since then Australian IVF and stem cell research teams have clocked advances in this sector with world-class research and solid government backing aimed at creating therapies for real health issues facing Australians -- and the world," said Dr Lavelle.

To make an appointment with members of the Australian delegation please go to Austrade's online diary and select the Business Matching service where your request will be confirmed within 24 hours:

For a listing of the 63 Australian exhibitors at BIO2005, please visit the Australian Exhibitor section of Invest Australia's BIO 2005 website at .

About AusBiotech --

AusBiotech is Australia's biotechnology industry organization, which represents over 2,400 members, covering the human health, agricultural, medical device, environmental and industrial sectors in biotechnology.

AusBiotech is dedicated to the development, growth and prosperity of the Australian biotechnology sector, by providing initiatives to drive sustainability and growth, outreach and access to markets, and representation and support for members nationally and around the world.

AusBiotech has representation in each Australian State and provides the foundation to bring together all the relevant players to facilitate the commercialization of Australian bioscience in the national and international marketplaces. The structure is a not-for-profit limited guarantee company managed by a Board elected by members, under a constitution that is available on request from National Office.

AusBiotech's membership base includes biotechnology companies, ranging from start-ups to mature multinationals, research institutes and universities, specialist service professionals, corporate, institutional, individual and student members from Australia and globally.

About Invest Australia --

Invest Australia is Australia's national inward investment agency, set up by the Australian Federal Government in 1997, to attract productive foreign direct investment into Australia to support sustainable industry growth and development. Invest Australia has investment advisory specialists in 11 locations around the world, including San Francisco and New York, to provide investors with on-the-ground support and investment advice, including free and confidential advice to firms to help find the right business partners and identify commercial opportunities. In the past two financial years, to June 2004, Invest Australia has played a role in attracting 105 projects worth US$11.1 billion, involving 9,470 jobs.

About Austrade --

The Australian Trade Commission, Austrade, is the Federal Government agency that helps Australian companies win overseas business for their products and service by reducing the time, cost and risk involved in selecting and developing international markets. Biotechnology is as a major source of growth for Australian industry and as such Austrade has established a specialist Biotech team.

Austrade, with seven offices in the US, can assist international biotechnology companies to partner with Australia'

Physicians don't refer patients to clinical trials

Majority of Physicians Who Treat Parkinson's Do Not Refer Patients to Clinical Trials, According to National Survey

NEW YORK, June 22 /PRNewswire/ -- While almost all (more than 96 percent) of the physicians (i) in the United States who treat people with Parkinson's agree that clinical trials are necessary to find better treatments for the disease, the majority of physicians have discussed clinical trials with just 10 percent or less of their patients with Parkinson's disease (65 percent of neurologists and 54 percent of primary care physicians/gerontologists) and have never referred a patient to a clinical trial (53 percent of neurologists and 83 percent of primary care physicians/gerontologists). These are among the highlights of a recent nationwide survey commissioned by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research and conducted by Harris Interactive(R) on behalf of the Advancing Parkinson's Therapies (APT) campaign.

Major Findings

The survey found that knowledge and opinions among U.S. Parkinson's patients (ii) closely mirror those of physicians. Almost all (95 percent) of the patients surveyed agree that clinical trials for Parkinson's are necessary to find better treatments, yet only 11 percent report that their doctor ever suggested that they participate in a trial. At the same time, those patients surveyed who are aware of trials cite support groups (40 percent) and other people with Parkinson's disease (27 percent) as the most common sources of information about trials -- only 11 percent cite their doctors.

Lack of adequate information about clinical trials was identified as a barrier to clinical trial enrollment. Only 14 percent of primary care physicians, 21 percent of neurologists and 18 percent of patients surveyed indicated that they are somewhat or very satisfied with the amount of information available about clinical trials for Parkinson's disease.

"People are not getting the information they need to make decisions as to whether to participate in a trial," said Michael J. Fox. "The fewer people who go into trials, the longer it will take to develop new treatments. To meet this challenge the Parkinson's community has initiated a new campaign called Advancing Parkinson's Therapies to make sure patients and physicians are better informed."

APT Launches Online Clinical Trials Resource

The APT campaign has launched, a major initiative designed to educate people about the importance of clinical trials, explain how clinical trials work and provide a comprehensive, user-friendly, web-based resource to enable patients and caregivers to identify and locate appropriate Parkinson's disease clinical trials. The campaign seeks to improve patient- physician communication about clinical trials and provides useful information to help patients and their physicians determine whether enrollment in a clinical trial is an appropriate option.

Survey Reveals Challenges

The Harris survey results revealed that in addition to dissatisfaction with the amount of information available, doctors and Parkinson's patients have reservations about clinical trials. Slightly more than half of physicians (52 percent) agree they would not recommend that a patient enroll in a trial if their disease is well-controlled. And, while 78 percent of patients surveyed indicate that they trust the doctors and scientists who run clinical trials to "do the right thing," 77 percent believe that if they participate in a clinical trial they may receive a placebo instead of a drug that will help them. In addition, 72 percent expressed concern about continued access to medication once the trial has stopped.

"Most patient concerns can be addressed through specific types of education and information," said Robin Elliott, Executive Director of the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, the lead organization of the APT collaboration. "For example, individuals may not know that some trials require no more than completing a family history survey or providing a DNA sample. People must also fully understand the informed consent process and the rights it gives them as trial participants. Advancing Parkinson's Therapies, through its online resource,, provides valuable information that can help empower all the major stakeholders -- patients, caregivers, physicians, researchers and trial sponsors."

Currently less then one percent of people with Parkinson's are participating in clinical research. This is far short of the level that researchers anticipate will be needed for clinical studies over the next two to three years, including studies of therapies to slow or stop disease progression and to improve symptoms such as tremors. This disparity may result in severe delays in the availability of new treatments that could offer relief for the nearly one million people in the U.S. who live with Parkinson's.

About the Survey

Stem Cells/NPF

Public release date: 13-Jun-2005

Contact: John Pastor
University of Florida

For first time, brain cells generated in a dish

Discovery pinpoints the true 'stem cell'

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Regenerative medicine scientists at the University of
Florida's McKnight Brain Institute have created a system in rodent models
that for the first time duplicates neurogenesis -- the process of
generating new brain cells -- in a dish.

Writing in today's (June 13) Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences, researchers describe a cell culture method that holds the
promise of producing a limitless supply of a person's own brain cells to
potentially heal disorders such as Parkinson's disease or epilepsy.

"It's like an assembly line to manufacture and increase the number of
brain cells," said Bjorn Scheffler, M.D., a neuroscientist with UF's
College of Medicine. "We can basically take these cells and freeze them
until we need them. Then we thaw them, begin a cell-generating process,
and produce a ton of new neurons."

If the discovery can translate to human applications, it will enhance
efforts aimed at finding ways to use large numbers of a person's own cells
to restore damaged brain function, partially because the technique
produces cells in far greater amounts than the body can on its own.

In addition, the discovery pinpoints the cell that is truly what people
refer to when they say "stem cell." Although the term is used frequently
to describe immature cells that are the building blocks of bones, skin,
flesh and organs, the actual stem cell as it exists in the brain has been
enigmatic, according to Dennis Steindler, Ph.D., executive director of the
McKnight Brain Institute and senior author of the paper. Its general
location was known, but it was an obscure species in a sea of cell types.

"We've isolated for the first time what appears to be the true candidate
stem cell," said Steindler, a neuroscientist and member of UF's Program of
Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. "There have been other
candidates, but in this case we used a special microscope that allows us
to watch living cells over long periods of time through a method called
live-cell microscopy, so we've actually witnessed the stem cell give rise
to new neurons. Possibly a different method may come up to identify the
mother of all stem cells, but we're confident this is it."

During experiments, scientists collected cells from mice and used
chemicals to induce them to differentiate. During the process, they
snapped images of the cells every five minutes for up to 30 hours and
compiled the images into movies. Traditional ways to attempt neurogenesis
have been unable to so closely duplicate the natural process. They also
haven't allowed scientists to monitor the entire sequence of cell
development from primitive states to functional neurons and expose the
electrophysiological properties of the cells.

A little more than a decade ago, scientists came to realize that the brain
continues to produce small amounts of new cells even in adulthood,
overturning the belief that people are born with a fixed amount of brain
cells that must last them throughout their lives.

In people, stem cells develop naturally into full-fledged brain cells as
they travel through a neural pathway that begins deep within the brain in
a region called the subventricular zone. The primitive cells mature along
the way, finishing as neurons in a spot called the olfactory bulb.

In the laboratory cultures, the cells still move about, but the pathway is
no longer important, showing that neurogenesis does not necessarily
require the environmental cues of the host brain.

The natural development of stem cells in the brain is very similar to the
lifelong production of blood cells in the human body called hematopoiesis,
with "poiesis" derived from the Greek word meaning "to make."

Scientists in Steindler's lab noticed the similarities between primitive
cell development in blood and in the brain in the late 1990s, calling the
process "neuropoiesis."

"The exciting part is we are actually using methods that researchers
involved with hematopoiesis used," Scheffler said. "Those researchers took
primitive cells, put them in a dish and watched them perform. From that,
they learned vital information for clinical applications such as bone
marrow transplants. Now we have a tool to do exactly the same thing."

By watching the cells perform, scientists can make judgments and influence
the capacity of the cells to generate specific neurons.

"As far as regenerating parts of the brain that have degenerated, such as
in Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and others of that nature,
the ability to regenerate the needed cell type and placing it in the
correct spot would have major impact,"

ScienceDaily News Release: A Cheap And Easy Way To Treat Parkinson Disease

Forwarded Message:

ScienceDaily News Release: A Cheap And Easy Way To Treat Parkinson Disease
6/27/2005 1:08:52 AM Eastern Standard Time

ScienceDaily Magazine (


Source: Journal Of Clinical Investigation
Date Posted: 2003-09-17
Web Address:


A team of researchers, led by Serge Przedborski, at Columbia University in New York, have demonstrated that infusion of D-beta-hydroxybutyrate (D-beta-HB) to mice suffering from Parkinson disease restored impaired brain function and protected against neurodegeneration and motor skill abnormalities. D-beta-HB, already utilized in the treatment of epilepsy, may represent a cheap and easy way to treat Parkinson disease.

Parkinson disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer disease. Sufferers experience motor skill abnormalities including tremor, muscle stiffness, and unstable voluntary movements and posture. The main pathological feature of the Parkinson brain is the loss of dopaminergic neurons.

Reported in an article in the September 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Przedborski and colleagues administered the neurotoxin MPTP to mice, which caused dopaminergic neurodegeneration and deficits in the mitochondrial electron transport chain reminiscent of Parkinson disease. Using this model of disease, the authors showed that the infusion of the ketone body D-beta-HB restored mitochondrial respiration and protected against MPTP-induced neurodegeneration and motor deficits. The study supports a critical role for mitochondrial defect in Parkinson disease.

Ketone bodies are already successfully used in the treatment of epilepsy. They are also able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier that often prevents potentially beneficial drugs from entering the brain.

D-beta-HB may therefore be considered as a novel form of neuroprotective therapy in the treatment of Parkinson's disease.

Majority of Americans Back Embryonic Stem Cell Research

WASHINGTON, July 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Six in 10 Americans (58%) say they support using embryonic stem cells in medical research, according to a new national poll by Research!America and PARADE magazine. Three in 10 (29%) are opposed. The poll asked 1,000 adults their views on embryonic stem cell research and the importance of maintaining U.S. leadership in research. Results will be published in the July 10 issue of PARADE.
Other key findings include: * Six in 10 Americans (63%) believe the U.S. should have a uniform national policy for medical research using embryonic stem cells. * Almost as many (57%) favor federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. * Many Americans (62%) say they are following the issue of stem cell research at least somewhat closely, but 37% say they are not. * Of those who oppose embryonic stem cell research, 57% say their opposition is based on religious objections. * Nearly half (49%) of those who identify themselves as Republicans, 71% of Democrats, and 53% of Independents say they support embryonic stem cell research.

"Embryonic stem cell research has been portrayed as a highly partisan issue, but this opinion poll tells us that, to the American people, this is not about politics -- it's about hope for healthier, more productive lives," said The Honorable John Edward Porter, Research!America board chair.

In the survey, the source of embryonic stem cells did not significantly affect Americans' views of this type of research Even when asked about different sources such as embryos donated by fertility clinic patients or those derived using cloning technologies, 60-65% consistently say they are in favor and 25-30% are consistently opposed.

A majority (61%) of Americans say neither they nor anyone they care about suffers from a disease or condition they hope will become treatable or curable as a result of embryonic stem cell research Nonetheless, of these, more than half (53%) support embryonic stem cell research.

"We see what great value Americans place on the power of medical research to improve our quality of life, that they support embryonic stem cell research even when they expect no immediate benefit to themselves or to their families," said Mary Woolley, president of Research!America, speaking at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco.

As for the goals of stem cell research, Americans have very different views on the use of embryonic stem cells for reproductive cloning -- the use of cloning technology to create a child -- than therapeutic cloning, which is the search for possible treatments or cures. Eight in 10 Americans (79%) oppose reproductive cloning, while six in 10 (59%) favor therapeutic cloning.

Importance of U.S. Leadership in Research and Training Future Scientists

Americans almost universally (95%) say it is important that the U.S. be a world leader in medical and health research. Six in 10 (60%) favor expanding U.S. policy to allow more embryonic stem cell research, in the context that other countries are taking the lead in this area, which was pioneered in the U.S.

Fully 99% of Americans say it is important for the U.S. to educate and train future scientists and researchers. Of those, 90% say it is very important. Six in 10 (58%) think the U.S. is performing well in science and math education compared to other nations. Of those who say the US. is doing well in this aspect, those with a high school education or less hold the most positive views.

"American innovation in science has been a source of national pride for more than a century," said Alan Leshner, PhD, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and executive publisher of the journal Science. "We cannot afford to under-invest in training future scientists, or we risk our intellectual pipeline and our position as a global leader in research."

Research!America is a not-for-profit, membership-supported public education and advocacy alliance founded in 1989 to make medical and health research -- including research to prevent disease, disability and injury and to promote health -- a much higher national priority.

Research!America and PARADE commissioned the Charlton Research Company to conduct a telephone survey among 1,000 adults nationwide. The sample was proportionate to the country's demographics, including geography, gender and ethnicity. The survey, fielded June 4-9, 2005, has a theoretical sampling error of +/- 3.1%. Complete poll findings are available at

Singapore biotech firm discovers new source of stem cells

Singapore biotech firm discovers new source of stem cells

SINGAPORE, July 11, 2005 /PRNewswire/ CellResearch Corporation in Singapore and its team of scientists, headed by Chief Scientist, Dr Phan Toan Thang, have recently made a revolutionary discovery: that the outer lining of the umbilical cord is a rich source of stem cells.

Stem cells are elementary cells with the potential to form a spectrum of human cells - the tiny building blocks that make up the human being. These cells can be converted (differentiated) into a myriad of cells, giving them incredible potential to heal by forming cells that replace those that fail through disease, accident or old age.

So far, the most versatile stem cells are found in embryos as it is their job to produce the hundreds of cell varieties that make up the human being. However the process of harvesting stem cells from embryos has been a subject of much controversy as its use intrinsically involves the destruction of the embryo. To avoid ethical objections, scientists and biotech companies have been exploring and developing other stem cell sources, leading to the discovery, among others, of stem cells in cord blood.

While cord blood stem cells are rich largely in hematopoietic cells that form blood cells, they lack sufficient mesenchymal and epithelial stem cells. The latter two forms of stem cells are responsible for creating virtually every cell in the body. Stem cells can also be found in marrow, muscle, skin, nervous tissue and fat, however, their extraction would require surgical intervention which is both uncomfortable and has potential risks.

CellResearch Corporation's breakthrough is identifying an alternative source of stem cells that is not only easily accessible, but also possesses both epithelial and mesenchymal stem cells. These stem cells that are found in the outer amniotic lining of the umbilical cord have been successfully differentiated by CellResearch Corporation into specific cells such as skin, bone, and fat. The potential to form other cell types from these cord-lining stem cells is phenomenal and best of all, they are acquired from the afterbirth which is plentiful and routinely discarded, thus sidestepping the whole ethical conundrum. CellResearch Corporation has applied for patent protection for its discovery.

Another advantage of cord-lining stem cells is its significantly higher yield compared to other sources. Laboratory results show that the cord lining produces potentially several hundred million stem cells per cord - a figure that is many hundred folds greater than most common stem cell sources.

Most interestingly, cord-lining stem cells may possess embryonic stem cell characteristics which infer that they may have pluripotent capabilities. These are reflected in the genetic markers they expressed in recent experiments conducted by CellResearch Corporation. Stem cells from fat, cord blood and bone marrow have not been found to express these markers. "These cord lining stem cells look promising because of their origin. To date, some preliminary experiments have been performed and while it is too early to comment on results, initial data has been favourable." says Sir Roy Calne, FRS, Professor of Surgery Emeritus, Cambridge University. Calne is involved in experimental work aimed at producing adult stem cells that secrete insulin and respond to glucose.

The next pressing issue in today's stem cell debate is whether stem cells can actually be safely used in practical clinical therapies: traditional laboratory cell growing (culture) techniques require stem cells to be nourished using serum derived from calf fetuses. These non-human components have been criticized as calf serum might potentially transmit bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease). CellResearch Corporation has been able to clear this hurdle by growing the cells without the need for calf sera by using serum-free media for cell culture. "Their potential for clinical use is, as a result, multiplied many fold," says Dr Ivor Lim.

Overall, the commercial applications of these cord lining stem cells are far reaching. Their ability to morph into a variety of cells means that they can potentially be used to treat a wide range of diseases from diabetes to Alzheimer's disease. The US$11 billion diabetes market, US$15 billion cancer therapy market, and US$45.5 billion anti-ageing products and services market are just some of the medical industries that may benefit from this discovery. Wound healing and the development of bioengineered skin are two additional areas of expertise which CellResearch Corporation intends to focus on. For further information on cord lining stem cells, CellResearch Corp and CordLabs, please contact:
Business Director or Chief Medical Director Edwin Chow,Dr Ivor Lim Tel: +65 6874 3357
CellResearch Corp Website:

SOURCE CellResearch Corporation