The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney has invited Australia-based researchers to apply for a $100,000 AUD grant to support and foster research on the therapeutic potential of adult stem cells.
The research grant is the fourth announced by Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney. It is intended to advance science and to circumvent human embryonic stem cell research, which requires the creation and destruction of human embryos.
Announcing the grant, Cardinal Pell said that the Church “promotes and encourages medical research, and we strongly support stem cell research and other forms of biotechnology that respect the dignity of every human life, including that of the unborn.”
"Every human life should be accorded the full protection of the law without regard to race, ethnicity, sex, religion, age, condition of dependency or stage of development. And this includes the smallest members of the human family.”
“Advances in adult stem cell research have been extremely impressive. Achievements in this area have surpassed anything that has been achieved in the field of embryonic cell research,” he added.
The grant will be awarded based on the recommendation of an independent assessment panel, whose members include experts in science and ethics.
The Archdiocese of Sydney’s grants have funded three previous efforts in stem cell research.
A 2003 grant of $50,000 funded an investigation into the therapeutic potential of adult stem cells derived from the nose to be used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. A 2005 grant in the amount of $100,000 helped investigate therapies using skin-derived stem cells to regenerate skin for catastrophic burn victims.
Another $100,000 grant, announced in 2007, helped research the capacity of stem cells derived from human dental pulp to transform into neuron cells, which may be useful in treating stroke victims.
Adult stem cells may be harvested from a patient’s own body and have been used in the treatment of heart and liver disease, strokes and spinal cord conditions. Though such therapies are still in early stages of development, adult stem cells avoid many of the technical and ethical problems surrounding the use of human embryonic stem cells.