Funding of  $1.75 million has been awarded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to Professor Claude Bernard and his research team at Monash University to collaborate with researchers at the University of California on developing improved treatments for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) using a new adult stem cell technique. 


Professor Bernard’s team is using skin cells from people with MS to make induced pluripotent stem cells that can be genetically reprogrammed into brain cells affected by the disease. 


Previously scientists relied on samples of blood and spinal fluid from people with MS, autopsy tissue or the study of animals with a similar disease. Current treatments are only able to slow the progression of MS in about 30% of sufferers.


The NHMRC grant forms the Australian component of international spending on the research in collaboration with US funding body, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The combined value of the international collaboration is more than $6 million.


“These researchers are using adult stem cells to produce a therapy that will not only stop on-going destruction of nerves which stimulate muscle movement – but also stimulate production and repair damaged nerves,” said NHMRC CEO, Professor Warwick Anderson said.