The University of Queensland has launched a new $7 million regenerative medicine research centre with the aim of improving the quality of life of senior Australians.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk launched the UQ Centre in Stem Cell Ageing and Regenerative Engineering (UQ-StemCARE) at the university's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.
UQ-StemCARE will focus on identifying and unravelling the key cellular and molecular mechanisms of stem cell ageing, investigating the development of clinical solutions in regenerative medicine to enhance prolong human health.
Eventual clinical translation could allow tissue function to be maintained and possibly restored, even at advanced age, said the university in a statement.
The centre will study how stem cells impact on age-related musculoskeletal conditions such as muscle wasting, osteoporosis and osteo-arthritis; vascular diseases such as arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis; and neural diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia.
“We all know that as we age our bodies tire and gradually lose their ability to heal themselves,” said Premier Palaszczuk.
“This incredible research will study how to optimise our body’s innate regenerative abilities so that they are extended, enabling the elderly to enjoy a more active, better quality of life for longer.
“We are delighted that this research will employ more scientists and train new PhD students, enabling a critical mass of expertise that will help the Queensland economy transition to a knowledge-based smart economy.”
UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said the Centre would further develop UQ’s already significant interdisciplinary ageing research capabilities.
“UQ is already creating change to improve the lives of older Australians with a broad healthy ageing research program tackling issues such as nutrition, physical activity, social participation, anxiety, cognition and dementia,” he said.
“The Queensland Brain Institute’s The Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research, established in 2011 with funding from the State and Federal governments and philanthropic support, is making important discoveries into new diagnostics and therapeutic treatments for dementia.
“The establishment of UQ-StemCARE builds on this in a concerted push to deliver more in an area where society has a real need – here and abroad – and will provide technological contributions for a better world,” he said.
“UQ and the Queensland Government will work hand-in-hand to support this important area of investigation, and to translate it into clinical and practical outcomes.”
AIBN Director Professor Alan Rowan said the centre would aim to understand and eventually reverse the decline of stem cell function during ageing, and would work to find clinical solutions.
“The population is getting older, and the decrease in productivity coupled with increasing health costs will be a significant societal problem if solutions are not found,” said Professor Rowan.
“By studying how stem cells can maintain functional tissue as we age, we can combat many of the ailments currently afflicting society.”