Making blood on demand with stem cells: Monash research team receives Eureka Award

27 August 2015
Peter Currie and Phong Nguyen at ARMI

Monash University researchers Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute’s Deputy Director Professor Peter Currie and PhD student Phong Nguyen, from the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, together with Dr Georgina Hollway from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research have won this year's Eureka Prize for scientific research.

The team of Melbourne and Sydney researchers has unlocked a mechanism that triggers stem cell production in blood, making the production of blood cells in the laboratory an achievable end goal.

By investigating blood stem cell production in zebrafish, the team identified a new family of cells – endotomal cells – that wrap themselves around nascent stem cells, signalling them via released proteins that it’s time to ‘switch on’.

The breakthrough is only the first step in what will be a lengthy scientific process, but it opens up a whole new line of inquiry within developmental biology: to find what other molecular signals are produced by these new cells to stimulate stem cell production.

Commenting on their success, Stem Cells Australia’s Professor Martin Pera said, “This prestigious award is a great acknowledgment of the breakthrough in understanding blood cell formation published in Nature last year by Pete Currie and his colleagues.  Their discovery of a new component on the blood stem cell microenvironment could help scientists to tackle a longstanding and very tough problem in the field, namely the propagation of blood stem cells in the body.”

Congratulations Peter and colleagues on your well deserved win!

Professor Peter Currie is an Affiliate Investigator in the Stem Cells Australia initiative.

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