Australian PM unveils $250M fund to back regenerative med effort

You can now count the Australian government as a major supporter of regenerative medicine research. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has unveiled a $250 million public/private fund to back new work in the field, taking a stake in early-stage labor that will take years--and years--to pay off.

The Australian government is putting up half of the cash while looking to the private sector for the other half. Rudd called regenerative medicine and genomic research the next frontier in 21st-century R&D.

"We have some of the best scientists in the world and a track record of great medical breakthroughs," he said this week, according to a report in The Australian. Rudd cited scientists in the country who coaxed tissue cells to act like kidney stem cells, offering a radical new approach to end-stage kidney disease.

A number of countries around the world have been backing the development of their biotech industries and preclinical scientific work. The U.K., in particular, has been supportive while the NIH takes the lead role in the U.S. in backing lab projects. Stem cell projects have hit the clinic recently, but it's still a nascent field with a long way to go before any products make it to the market. Rudd acknowledged that it's likely to be another 20 years before anyone can grow a new kidney to replace a failed organ.

- here's the story from The Australian

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