Research into organ & tissue replacement

Theme Leader: Stuart Fraser

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This is the newest Research Theme in the Bosch Institute. It is undergoing rapid expansion and further development is anticipated in the next few years with the establishment of a program in Tissue Engineering.

Transplantation is a life-saving treatment for end-stage heart and liver failure. For advanced kidney failure, renal transplantation is the optimal therapy, offering significant improvement in duration and quality of life, as well as economic benefits to the community, when compared with dialysis.

Corneal transplantation is the only vision-restoring treatment in conditions such as keratoconus and corneal scarring. Islet or pancreas transplantation for type I diabetes normalizes blood glucose and prevents the development of complications such as retinopathy, neuropathy and renal failure. Regulating the regrowth of bone cells is a key strategy for future treatment of osteoporosis. Tissue fibrosis is often a contributory factor to organ and tissue dysfunction.

Over 15,000 Australians have or will develop end-stage organ failure in 2006. This population is projected to grow exponentially along with the rise in underlying conditions such as diabetes and hepatitis C. As a result, demand for organs and tissues is rapidly outstripping supply, progressively reducing access to transplantation. To address the critical shortage of organs and tissues for transplantation, a multi-pronged approach is required.

There are several existing collaborations within this Research Theme. Notable is the activities of the Collaborative Transplantation Group, a joint venture of clinicians, surgeons and basic scientists. During the next triennium, new collaborative projects are to be nurtured involving researchers interested in fibrosis and growth factor biology from the basic and clinical perspective. This will include the Diabetes Complications Group.

A major goal of the Bosch Institute during 2006 - 2008 is to increase activity in this Research Theme. It is intended to recruit research leaders in stem cell biology and tissue engineering to build on the existing activities in these areas. There will be major external collaborations with cognate activities in the University of Sydney Bio3 program and the Centenary Institute.

There are existing interactions with other Bosch Institute researchers that will be developed over the next few years. A major one centres on the multiple activities of the immunomodulatory enzyme indoleamine dioxygenase, involving Sharland, Bishop and Hunt. A number of collaborations with external organisations in Australia and overseas also exist.

Desired impact on knowledge and/or practice

  • Basic Sciences: To develop a detailed understanding of the causation, initiating factors and mechanisms of transplant rejection, growth factor biology, and chronic fibrosis.
  • Innovation: To facilitate invention of innovative research techniques by scientifically "cross-cultural" collaboration, enabled by (1) links generated within the Research Theme and (2) links generated with members of other Research Themes.
  • Translation: To enable (1) an informed approach to the clinical prevention of transplant rejection, (2) new methods to improve the availability of donor organs for transplantation, (3) new methods of prevention of the development of chronic fibrosis in conditions such as diabetes, (4) new approaches to preventing the development of cataract, (5) new techniques for treating osteoporosis.

Laboratory Heads & Senior Researchers

Contact details Laboratory
Prof Richard D M Allen 
T: +61 2 9515 5416
F: +61 2 9515 6329
Collaborative Transplantation Group

Dr Stuart Fraser  
T: +61 2 9036 3313
F: +61 2 9036 3316

Senior Lecturer in Molecular Embryology
A/Prof Susan McLennan
T: +61 2 9515 6150
F: +61 2 9516 1273
Diabetes Complications Group
Dr Michael Morris
T: +61 2 9926 4877
F: +61 2 9926 6343
Embryonic Stem Cell Laboratory
Prof Anthony Weiss 
T: +61 2 9351 3464
F: +61 2 9351 4726
Elastin and Elastic Tissue Engineering
Prof Hala Zreiqat
T: +61 2 9351 2392
F: +61 2 9351 3760
Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Research Unit