To further the NSCFA’s mission it is supporting two activity streams. Firstly, the promotion of stem cell science. This means the education of the public regarding the progress of stem cell based treatments, and which treatments are currently deemed as safe, proven treatments.
Secondly, we support stem cell based research, whether that is into the underlying biology of stem cells, or targeted towards diseases, genetic conditions or the treatment of injuries. Our currently supported programs are shown below.
Promotion and education of stem cells
The NSCFA is working with Stem Cells Australia in developing material that will promote and educate stem cell science and potential cures.
There has been a trend in recent years for patients afflicted with incurable diseases or being suffering from untreatable injuries to travel to clinics offering stem cell based cures. Often it is their only hope as conventional medicine is unable to offer any more hope. Faced with chronic pain, low quality of life or even death and lured by marketing based strongly on patient testimony, families are convinced to pay vast sums of money for travel and treatment. Sadly in most cases the treatment offered has no scientific foundation and no proven impact on their illness and in some cases can make the conditions worse. Some people consider such clinics as modern day ‘snake oil salesmen’.
The NSCFA’s predecessor, the Australian Stem Cell Centre, in response to the many enquiries it received from patients and their families produced the acclaimed Patient Handbook in 2010. This was updated in early 2011.
The NSCFA has engaged Stem Cells Australia to update and maintain the Patient Handbook. For this to continue to be of use for people searching for answers to the multitude of questions that arise when they are considering travelling overseas to have stem cell treatments, it is imperative that it remains current, topical and it is able to react as treatments and clinics develop. We expect the next update for this handbook to be released in early 2013.
Our predecessor, the Australian Stem Cell Centre wanted to help introduce stem cell science into the classroom. We're pleased to offer these free resources for teachers. From our teachers resources page you can download the complete Teachers' Kit and complementing PowerPoint presentations.
The Australian Stem Cell Centre produced a number of Fact Sheets. As science progress we will update these fact sheets in cooperation with Stem Cells Australia.
Centre for Eye Research Australia CERA
The NSCFA has recently agreed a two-year program of support with the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA). Our support is targeted at the Neuroregeneration Research Unit headed by Dr Alice Pébay and specifically at research on stem cells being undertaken their targeting stem cell treatments for two genetic diseases: Leber’s Hereditary Ocular Neuropathy (LHON); and Macular Degeneration.
CERA are aiming to generate induced pluripotent stem cell lines with material derived form sufferers of those two diseases. These lines can then be used initially to study the diseases and later to screen potential drugs for harmful side effects and ultimately for potential transplant material for sufferers with the long-term hope of reversing the condition.
Dr Pébay’s laboratory will use our support funding to the initial derivation of those lines. The foundation has signed an initial two-year support agreement with CERA with the potential for extension for a further two years.
Support for Young Researchers
The Foundation is investigating a program of support for young researchers to assist them transition through the early post-doctoral phase of their careers. We will announce further details of this program in 2013.
Where we will not spend your money
The Foundation is committed to operating on as low a cost base as possible during this phase of its development.
The Board of directors do not draw any remuneration and management activities are carried out at minimal cost. In addition many advisors are acting for the foundation on a pro-bono basis as part of their charitable contribution. This includes our audit, taxation, legal and investment partners.
This enables us to channel as much of our income to stem cell science as possible.
The Foundation will also make its annual accounts publicly available so donators can have confidence that their donations are going to the cause.