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Sydney still focused on adult stem cells

· Archdiocese grants research funds for the fifth time ·

“Their project on finding a way to develop these adult stem cells that could well revolutionise the treatment of a whole range of diseases highlights some of the wonderful avenues for research, and hopefully healing, that adult stem cells open up”. With these words Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, announced the Archdiocese's conferral of $100,000 on two researchers to finance a research project for the use of adult stem cells, which are ethically acceptable, different from the use of embryonic stem cells.

The economic contribution went to two researchers of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Prof. John Rasko and Dr Janet Macpherson and will serve to develop research on the use of adult stem cells in anti-rejection therapies following transplants.

This is the fifth grant given by the Catholic Church, the most recent one was given in 2011. The possibility of using such funds is strictly linked to the precise parameters established by the Code of Ethical Standards for Catholic Health and Aged Care Services, which respect human dignity and  constantly aim to serve the common good. For the Church, the Archdiocese of Sydney observes, the use of excess embryos constitutes an act which destroys life, even if the embryos have no chance of being implanted.

Cardinal Pell also wished both researchers success, underlining the innovation of the path of research. Prof. Rasko is head of the Department of Cell and Molecular Therapies, and which Dr Macpherson also collaborates. In thanks for the grant, Prof. Rasko stated “we know people are looking for answers and treatments and that is our goal”.

The Archdiocese has stated that since 2003 the request by Australian researchers to obtain funding for research on adult stem cells has considerably increased. This funding has aided various research teams in understanding the biology of adult stem cells and their clinical application in people with spinal cord damage, brain disorders, illnesses such as schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease,

motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis and various forms of cancer. The ultimate goal of this  regenerative practice is to use the patient's stem cells for a long-term therapy.

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