News

CRC for Cell therapy opportunities


6 September 2013

Marcela Bilek, Director of the University's node of the CRC for Cell Therapy Manufacturing, is part of an exciting new research consortium, launched this year by the Federal Government, involving several state-of-the-art research laboratories and several global commercial enterprises.

Human dermal fibroblast cells responding to covalently immobilised extra cellular matrix molecules on a PTFE surface. Scale bar is 200 micrometers.
Human dermal fibroblast cells responding to covalently immobilised extra cellular matrix molecules on a PTFE surface. Scale bar is 200 micrometers.

"This presents a wonderful opportunity for those thinking of commencing a PhD next year in that they could expect to see their research translated into new technologies with huge benefits for society on a time scale similar to that of their PhD," said Professor Bilek.

The Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Cell Therapy Manufacturing, with net present value of $182M, has been launched to develop crucial new technology for the next major pillar of health care - Cell Therapy - making it generally available. Cell Therapy is the only known approach to cure chronic disease. It relies on the creation of large populations of healthy cells outside the body, which are then transplanted to replace defective populations in the patient. The CRC will help to make Australia a world leader in the manufacture of cell therapies for a range of previously incurable and difficult-to-treat conditions.

Confocal microscopy image showing the cells' nuclei in blue and their development of healthy cytoskeletons in red. Scale bar is 100 micrometers.
Confocal microscopy image showing the cells' nuclei in blue and their development of healthy cytoskeletons in red. Scale bar is 100 micrometers.

The School of Physics and the School of Molecular Bioscience at the University of Sydney were invited to join this endeavour to develop smart biologically interacting surfaces for expanding therapeutic cells in vitro.

"Our contribution to the CRC is underpinned by our recent breakthroughs that enable universally effective immobilization of bioactive molecules onto virtually all surfaces," said Professor Bilek.

The technology enabled by these discoveries received the Australian Innovation Challenge Award for Health and is now being developed by the Sydney Physics/Molecular Bioscience team together with commercial partners for applications in implantable biomedical devices, diagnostic microarrays and biosensing. This CRC represents an exciting new direction that will yield major benefits to society.

"Our findings will be up scaled by the commercial partners and fed directly into clinical trials at participating hospitals over the 6 year life of the CRC," said Professor Bilek.

In the first 3 years of the CRC program, we will be working with two companies, Athersys and Thermo, to develop mesenchymal stem cell therapies and universal automated bioreactors to generate large populations of cells cost effectively.

"The over arching aim of both projects is to bring the costs of cell therapy down so that these amazingly successful treatments can be made readily available to all who need them," said Professor Bilek.

In joining this team, potential researchers will work alongside internationally acclaimed senior researchers in the fields of plasma physics, materials science and engineering, and molecular and cellular biology, becoming proficient with modern surface analysis techniques, combined with important biological research and development and gaining experience with technology transfer, working with consortium partner companies and hospitals.

If you are interested or would like to know more about this opportunity or the CRC please contact Professor Marcela Bilek (Physics) - marcela.bilek@sydney.edu.au - or Professor Tony Weiss (Molecular Bioscience) - tony.weiss@sydney.edu.au


Contact: Tom Gordon

Phone: 02 9351 3201

Email: 320b0c7b2018104b240871053a503f092c4b1f54406f2522