Just six months after the signing of the MOU between the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine Australia (CCRM Australia) and the Israeli Network for Advanced Cell Applications (INACA), CCRM Australia has already welcomed its first international exchange student from the Israeli research network. The partnership seeks to accelerate the commercialisation of cell applications locally and globally, teaming up emerging scientists with premier regenerative medicine researchers.
As part of the exchange program, first-year PhD student Ms Reut Guy was able to spend just over five weeks in Australia, where she attended the International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy Conference (ISCT), learned new experimental methods, and met with collaborators from across multiple CCRM Australia affiliated institutions. The experience proved to be a stimulating experience for the promising student, who was excited to share stories about her travels and research.
Reut and her supervisor Professor Daniel Offen first heard about the CCRM Australia Global Network Exchange Program through their colleagues at Bioforum. The first year PhD student was encouraged to apply as her team knew it would be an ideal opportunity to build her professional skill sets, and bring new experimental techniques back to their translational neuroscience lab.
“The program has been designed to be an immersive experience, with participants gaining an understanding of the regenerative medicine sector in each CCRM hub, and an opportunity to form connections and generate ideas about how best to improve their own local sector,” explained CCRM Australia’s CEO Silvio Tiziani. Indeed, Reut’s time here gave her a vital opportunity to explore new concepts and build the frameworks for the continuation of her studies. “I think the visit has given me more specific direction, and some ideas about what to do next. I have just started my PhD in October, so I have time to do those modifications and get some shape to my degree,” said Reut.
Throughout her studies, Reut will investigate mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-derived exosomes as a potential therapeutic approach for stroke. “The recovery of stoke requires neurogenesis for example, and among the promising promoters of neurogenesis are MSC – that’s something that has been shown broadly in the past,” explained Reut. “Now we are looking into MSC-derived exosomes – they have all the benefits of MSC, including their functional recovery properties.”
During her time in Australia, Reut was able to meet key potential collaborators including Associate Professor Jason Howitt from Swinburne University, who, like Reut and others in Professor Offen’s research team, studies exosomes in the context of regenerative neuroscience. Significantly, Reut was also able to learn the endothelin-1 model of middle cerebral artery stroke in rats, an experimental model which will be used throughout the rest of her PhD and beyond. “There are multiple models for stroke, and this one is very different to what we currently use in our lab. This model enables prediction of outcomes based on observed behavioral changes as they occur during stroke induction, and therefore holds a great value for translation,” said Reut, who was taught this innovative method by Dr Carli Roulston from the Florey Institute. “My supervisor Dani and I had been looking for someone to teach us about the model for a while – we had actually both Googled Carli, but then Silvio helped us to make the actual connection. I will most definitely stay in contact with her, she is so nice and has already suggested a lot of things that can improve my research.”
As well as this opportunity to develop important technical skills, Reut also spent time working somewhat outside her comfort zone, joining Silvio and CCRM Australia’s Chief Operating Officer Dr Chih Wei Teng in their meetings with various government and scientific personnel. Throughout these discussions, she was able to learn about some of the practicalities and logistics involved in the commercialisation of regenerative medicine research. “That was very interesting because I am really not used to that business side of science. I think that will be useful in the future – it’s something that I haven’t been exposed to before,” said Reut.
When Reut returns home, she looks forward to sharing not only her newfound skills, but stories of her travels too. “I am for sure going to talk about Australia a lot. It’s been lovely, everyone has been so nice. The Great Ocean Road was fantastic – and koalas are cool too!”
CCRM Australia is an Australian not-for-profit organisation supporting the development of foundational technologies to accelerate the commercialisation of regenerative medicine products and therapies. CCRM Australia’s focus is to bridge the commercialisation gap through a network of scientists, entrepreneurs, academic institutions and industry partners and address bottlenecks in the industry. CCRM Australia is modelled on the highly successful CCRM in Canada and is legally separate to CCRM. As a member of the Global CCRM network, CCRM Australia is a partner to a leading-edge industry consortium. CCRM Australia is supported by MTPConnect and the Victorian State Government.
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About the Israeli Network for Advanced Cell Applications
The Israeli Industry Network for Advanced Cell Applications was established in early 2018 as part of the effort to bring different players within Israel to promote mutual discussion and collaboration in advanced cell therapies (cell therapy, gene therapy, gene-modified cells and tissue-regeneration products). INACA has at least 30 companies and hospital-based establishments, engaged in activities such as product development and clinical applications. Other members include service providers and regulatory bodies. This effort aims to further advance the field of Advanced Cell Applications in Israel and to expose it to global trends. INACA will collaborate with the global network of CCRM, which serves as a global hub for regenerative medicine expertise.