The Australian Stem Cell Centre (ASCC) through StemCore, its national facility for the provision of stem cells and advice, continues to build a world class Australian stem cell research community. For the first time in Australia, young researchers will be trained in the techniques of growing and using human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells in research.
iPS cells, discovered in 2006 when Japanese scientists reprogrammed ordinary skin cells into versatile stem cells, have made a significant impact on Australian research and are recognised as one of the most important developments in stem cell research in recent times. By offering the long-term prospect of personalised and disease specific cell lines being available for treating disease, testing medicines and for research purposes, they represent a new and innovative way for scientists to study and understand disease and development.
In reaction to this important scientific breakthrough the ASCC has developed its training programs by delivering the StemCore iPS Cell Workshop. The ASCC course is the first of its kind in Australia. It is an intensive hands-on laboratory based training course, which allows participants to gain valuable direct experience in growing and analysing human pluripotent stem cells. Demand for the course has been high and this week’s inaugural course is fully booked.
From Monday, participants from across Australia will spend the week receiving hands-on training and lectures in state-of-the-art facilities at Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology located within the University of Queensland.
The participants will take back to their home institutions the knowledge and skills required to make, grow and expand iPS cells for use in research. They will also learn how the stem cells created can be directed to turn into the different cell types of the body, such as heart cells or neural cells.
Associate Professor Ernst Wolvetang, a leading Australian expert in embryonic stem cells, iPS cells, cell reprogramming and genetic stability, leads the course. According to Associate Professor Wolvetang “more and more researchers are looking to use iPS cells as these reprogrammed cells can be generated from patients with genetic disorders to create and study disease models in the laboratory which may provide a future platform for drug screening” he added that “for example the StemCore iPS laboratory is helping Professor’s Carolyn Sue and Alan MacKay-Sim to make iPS cell lines from patients with Parkinson’s disease and Schizophrenia, respectively”.
In addition to Associate Professor Wolvetang, the course features leading Australian iPS cell scientists including Dr Paul Verma from the Monash Institute of Medical Research, Dr Andrew Laslett of CSIRO, and Dr Jeremy Crook of the O’Brien Institute and Cytentia, an iPS cell bank.