Researchers from across the globe gather in Melbourne for premier stem cell meeting

18 June 2018
Over 2700 researchers will be in Melbourne for the Annual Stem Cell meeting
More than 2,700 stem cell scientists from 50 countries are in Melbourne this week for the massive International Society for Stem Cell Research 2018 Annual Meeting. 

The ISSCR Annual Meeting is the world’s largest meeting focused on stem cell research. Presentations span the breadth of the field, including topics such as cell-based disease modeling, gene editing and gene therapy, neural, cardiac, blood and other developmental systems and their diseases, and potential breakthrough therapies currently being tested in clinical trials, among others.

Over the four day meeting at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre delegates will hear from 150+ speakers discussing the latest discoveries and technologies within the field of stem cell research, and how they are advancing regenerative medicine. Highlights include:

Douglas Melton, USA – Fighting type one diabetes with stem cells 
Doug Melton will report on a way to use stem cells to produce the massive quantities of insulin-producing beta cells needed to treat people with diabetes, including life-threatening type 1 diabetes, which his two children have. Doug will share his lab’s work towards providing human islet cells for diabetics and find ways to thwart immune rejection so that patients no longer require blood checks and insulin injections. 

Michele De Luca, Italy – How new skin from genetically modified stem cells saved a refugee boy’s life 
Michele De Luca and Graziella Pellegrini led the team that developed genetically-engineered stem cells to produce sheets of disease-free skin cells to save the life of a seven-year-old Syrian refugee who has ‘butterfly skin’, the genetic disease Epidermolysis Bullosa that leaves his skin as fragile as a butterfly's wings. Now living with his family in Germany, Hassan is able to attend school, play soccer and live a full life. 

Clare Parish, Australia —Could well-connected stem cells provide brain repair for Parkinson’s disease? 
Clare Parish will reveal how a stem cell transplant can treat Parkinson’s disease and restore normal movement in animal trials, so long as the newly transplanted cells make the right connections in the brain. 

Other topics to be covered include how stem cell eye patch may lead to cures for blindness; how chemicals control stem cells: to stop Zika, to become a pancreas, or to prevent cancer; what can humans learn from axolotls about tissue and nerve regeneration; tracing blood back to its beginnings to tackle leukaemia, and rewriting the ‘code of life’ and the future of gene editing.
Representing Australian stem cell science will be Jane Visvader and Patrick Tam on the Plenary podium and Andrew Elefanty, Peter Currie, Clare Parish, Enzo Porello and Jose Polo as invited speakers within the concurrent program. More than 20 other Australians have been selected for oral presentations based on abstract, including Nathan Palpant, Christian Nefzger, Lizzi Mason, Ernst Wolvetang, Claire Tanner, Thierry Jarde, Alex Combes, Isabelle De Luzy, Melanie Domingues and Dhanushika Ratnayake.

Megan Munsie will also receive the 2018 ISSCR Public Service award in recognition of her significant contribution for many years in outreach to the public and advocacy to policy makers around issues associated with stem cell science and its translation to the clinic. 

The meeting runs from 20-23 June and is being hosted by the Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research (ASSCR) with the support of stem cell active institutions and companies across the country and the generous support of the State Government and the Melbourne Convention Bureau.

Melissa Little, President of ASSCR and Program Leader of Stem Cells Australia is the Program Committee Chair for this meeting and has worked tireless with her committee members and ISSCR staff to bring this exciting event to Australia. Australia is the only country outside of North America to have hosted this meeting more than once since its inception in 2002.