Stem cell research to enable cartilage regeneration receives major funding boost

Professor Peter Choong

Pictured: ARISTOCRAT Project Lead, Professor Peter Choong

Close to $7 million has been awarded to the ARISTOCRAT project through the Medical Research Future Fund to further the vital stem-cell study focused on developing innovative therapies to help prevent joint deformity, enable cartilage regeneration and improve care. 

The substantial funding boost was announced by the Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler. 

Led by Hugh Devine Professor of Surgery at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, Peter Choong, the ARISTOCRAT project is also investigating simplifying processes to bring the treatments explored into hospitals so clinicians can potentially treat conditions, such as osteoarthritis, musculoskeletal disorders and facial disfigurement more quickly, with fewer complications than before. 

Improving health outcomes 

Cartilage holds an important role in the body, lining the surface of our joints and because of this cartilage loss is far-reaching, leading to pain, deformity and loss of function. 

“Osteoarthritis is one of the top 10 contributors to the global burden of disease, affecting more than two million Australian, while Microtia - an absent poorly formed ear - affects one in 2000 newborns and can lead to hearing loss, speech and literacy delays," says Prof Choong. 

“Our research hopes to change the way these conditions are treated using patients’ own stem cells to restore damaged or absent cartilage and minimise the number of operations required, and overall time spent in hospital.” 

The research team is comprised of experts from St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, University of Melbourne, LaTrobe University, University of Wollongong, University of Sydney, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Monash University, RMIT University, Swinburne University of Technology and the University of Toronto.