A group of Australian women have been very busy doing something that has not been done before:
The team from Melbourne’s Monash Institute of Medical Research (MIMR) – comprising scientists Prue Cowin, Professor Gail Risbridger and Dr Renea Taylor – are claiming a world first by growing a human prostate in a mouse using embryonic stem cells.
The medical breakthrough came after three years of research, backed by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and Australian financial company Perpetual, which between them provided $1 million funding.
Professor Risbridger said the discovery would have a significant impact on research into cancer of the prostate, the walnut-shaped gland that surrounds the urethra at the neck of the male bladder.
“We will have the opportunity to study the transition of healthy prostate tissue to cancer,” Prof Risbridger said.
Dr Taylor said they grew the prostate tissue in the laboratory before implanting it into a mouse, which acted as a host.
She said the cells then developed into a human prostate secreting hormones and PSA, which is a substance in the blood used to diagnose prostate disease.
“We’ve taken these embryonic stem cells to a point where they are actually functioning like a human prostate,” Dr Taylor said.
“Now we have this model in the lab which has many, many uses,” she said.