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Stem cell research: hope and reality

Dr Duncan Crombie is a stem cell scientist who has built his career around in vitro disease modelling.

“The idea behind disease modelling is to understand how diseases occur in the first place…” he says in a short podcast interview available below, “…we can then start looking for drugs to target them.”

Duncan was awarded a prestigious NHMRC Gustav Nossal Postgraduate Scholarship to research Friedreich’s Ataxia, a devastating disease of the nervous system characterised by a loss of balance, coordination and muscular control. It also has serious side effects on the heart and vision.

Duncan’s research into the disease has revealed new insights about its genetic basis and led to progress towards creating effective treatments.

Duncan has worked closely with Associate Professor Alice Pébay for many years on stem cell research and at CERA they are investigating stem cell approaches to fighting devastating and complex eye diseases such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

“I’m hoping to understand why people go blind from diseases like glaucoma and AMD and to find treatments that will slow or prevent that from happening,” he says.

Duncan postulates the future for stem cell research but cautions against the media ‘hype’ surrounding its potential in the fight against disease.

“People really need to be careful and ensure any treatments they are involved with are evidence-based and backed by solid peer-based research,” he says.

To listen to the podcast click on the red button below.