News / 11 August 2020

Two members of EMBL Australia’s leadership team have been awarded more than $820,000 to develop new therapies using stem cell and tissue-engineering approaches to treat muscle injury and wasting disorders.

EMBL Australia group leader Associate Professor Mikaël Martino and Victorian node head Professor Peter Currie – both based at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute – will be joint chief investigators, along with Professor Laurence Meagher from the Monash Institute of Medical Engineering, on the two-year project, which was funded by the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund's Stem Cell Therapies Mission.

The researchers aim to improve the lives of those with muscular dystrophies & myopathies, reported as one of the highest burdens of disease in Australia and looming as a major health issue in our ageing population.

There are currently no treatments for this diverse group of disorders.

This project builds on work that has defined the signals that direct muscle stem cell proliferation in vivo. Components of the cellular immune system, in particular the macrophage, are emerging as key regulators of this process.

The overall direction for this project is to develop directed therapies from the novel macrophage-derived muscle cytokine, NAMPT, that have been identified. Using the distinct skill sets within the respective research teams and defined project milestones, the team will build a specific set of NAMPT-based therapeutics that stimulate muscle stem cell mediated regeneration and enhance muscle stem cell transplantation engraftment in a variety of muscle injury and disease contexts.