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$4.8m Commonwealth grant for South Australian company to research Parkinson's Disease cure.



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$4.8 MILLION COMMONWEALTH GRANT FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIAN COMPANY TO RESEARCH PARKINSON'S DISEASE CURE 18 September 2000

18 September 2000           00/417 

$4.8M COMMONWEALTH GRANT FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIAN COMPANY TO RESEARCH PARKINSON'S DISEASE CURE  Adelaide-based biotechnology company BresaGen has been offered a $4.8 million Commonwealth Government R&D Start grant to find a cure through cell therapy for debilitating human diseases including Parkinson's Disease and bone marrow disorders. 

"If the research achieves its desired outcomes, it is expected to have significant consumer and social benefits due to the successful treatment of previously intractable and life-threatening diseases," Industry, Science and Resources Minister Senator Minchin said today. 

"This grant will help BresaGen broaden and accelerate its cutting-edge Cell Therapy Research Program to develop new stem cell-based therapies for several diseases with no satisfactory treatments.  

"If BresaGen achieves a robust technology platform it could provide the basis for major, commercially lucrative disease therapies to be developed in Australia by other researchers as well as BresaGen. 

"This in turn could be expected to enhance our reputation as a source of innovative biotechnology, with positive implications for Australian research and commercial organisations in other fields. 

"BresaGen's collaboration with other Australian research organisations is expected to benefit the enhancement and sustainability of other individual research programs."  

Parkinson's Disease is one of the major diseases targeted by the Cell Therapy Program. The R&D Start grant will assist BresaGen to establish proof of concept of cell therapy technology for Parkinson's Disease in an animal model. 

Stem cells and their derivatives will be used in pre-clinical studies to treat symptoms of Parkinson's Disease that can be induced in rats. The project will also test the therapeutic potential of blood cells derived from stem cells to treat diseases of the bone marrow. 

Research will also be conducted into using cell cycle controls to help reprogram mature cells to stem cells. This approach may allow access to a patient's own stem cells, alleviating the need to derive such cells from embryos. 

Senator Minchin said the Government's Industry Research and Development Board and business unit, AusIndustry, had approved $177 million for 219 innovative projects under the R&D Start Program in the past financial year. 

"The Commonwealth Government would like to see more businesses being innovative, undertaking R&D and commercialising their research efforts," Senator Minchin said. 

Further information on the assistance programs can be viewed on the AusIndustry website at: www.ausindustry.gov.au or obtained by calling the AusIndustry Business Hotline on

13 28 46. 

Contact:  Carolyn Coleman, Senator Minchin's office, 08 8237 7190 or 0409 438 680

                   Russell Edwards, AusIndustry, 02 6213 7330 

CMR478-00 

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