Novel research leads to new discovery
Professor Damien Harkin undertook a novel research project using a protein extracted from silk as a form of scaffold on which to grow new retinal tissue, with a view to replacing the damaged tissue that leads to vision loss in AMD patients.
The study not only achieved a better understanding of the feasibility of implanting cultured retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells into the retina, but unexpectedly discovered a new type of stem cell within the tissue that resides immediately behind the retina. This new stem cell may be used to reduce the scarring experienced by AMD patients.
Prof Harkin’s MDFA-funded research attracted an additional $500,000 in NHMRC funding.
It has also helped train a new generation of scientists to continue this and related projects well into the future. One of those young scientists is 2019 grant recipient Dr Audra Shadforth, who is building on Prof Harkin’s work.
Prof Harkin received his $200,000 MDFA Research Grant in 2013 while at the School of Biomedical Sciences at the Queensland University of Technology.
This article first appear in our publication 10 Years of Impact: Reflecting on the impact of investing into macular disease research.