Groundbreaking work in kidney research has won Murdoch Childrens researchers places as finalists in the 2016 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes.
Professor Melissa Little and her colleague Dr Minoru Takasato are vying for the UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research for their internationally-renowned research growing mini-kidneys in a dish. Kidney disease affects one in 10 Australians, with kidney failure is increasing at six per cent a year. Recognising the urgent need for new treatment options, Professor Little and Dr Takasato recreated human kidney tissue from stem cells, opening the door to disease-modelling, drug-screening and ultimately, replacement organs.
Importantly, the new method means researchers can make a miniature model kidney from any person, starting with cells such as skin or blood.
“Making stem cells from patients with kidney disease, and then growing a mini-kidney that matches the patient, will help us understand that patient’s disease and develop treatments for them,” Professor Little said.
Associate Professor Andrew Steer, also based at the MCRI, is a finalist for another Eureka award - the Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research. A/Prof Steer leads a landmark study which has achieved astonishing results controlling neglected tropical diseases including scabies in the Pacific region.
The winners of the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes will be announced at a gala Award Dinner on Wednesday August 31 at Sydney Town Hall.
Established in 1827, the Australian Museum is the nation’s first museum and one of its foremost scientific research, educational and cultural institutions. The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes were established in 1990 to reward outstanding achievements in Australian science and science communication.
Professor Little is a former Chief Investigator in the Stem Cells Australia initiative and currently serves on the Governance Committee.