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$5M Grant for Spinal Cord Injury Research

Wed 10, May 2017

Olfactory Cell Transplantation Project receives $5million grant from the Queensland Government


The PCSRF is thrilled to announce that the Queensland Government has invested five million dollars into the pre-clinical phase of the Olfacatory Cell Transplantation to Repair Spinal Cord Injury Project.

Officially announced this morning by Queensland Premier, The Hon. Annastacia Palaszczuk, at Griffith University, the pre-clinical trial will expand upon the work led by current Australian of The Year, Professor Alan Mackay-Sim who showed that transplanting olfactory cells from the nose into the spinal cord was safe in humans.

The project now being led by Dr James St John, will see the research that the PCSRF has been backing for many years and injected over $500,000 into, finally progress into an official launch phase.

The PCSRF has worked closely with Griffith University's 'Griffith Enterprise Office' for the past year to position the project as a reputatable beneficiary for a Queensland Government grant and to see the Foundation acknowledged for its efforts on such a grand scale this morning was extraordinary.

Perry Cross (Founder), Tom Ray (Chairman), Dr Brent McMonagle (PCSRF Scientific Director) and fellow Board Members Dan Marino and Adam Bennett-Smith attended the official announcement, which proved a gratifying and also emotional morning. 

The Foundation has been heavily involved in the intense lobbying, several meetings with senior Government staff and tours of the world-class laboratories to really showcase the global work that is being conducted to cure spinal cord injury and the five million dollar grant reiterates the Foundation's confidence in the ground-breaking OCT project. 

We would like to take this opporunity to thank all of our loyal supporters, donors and stakeholders for helping to create this excting outcome.

The PCSRF's goal is to continue to support this project through strong fundraising and awareness to ensure the project's future phases don't become stagnant,due to a lack of ongoing funding that it still required.

Please read the official Press Release below.

To sign up to receive more information about the project please complete your details here.

10 May 2017



Premier and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment
The Honourable Curtis Pitt 

Palaszczuk Government invests in vital spinal cord injury research

A $5 million funding boost from the Palaszczuk Government will help Griffith University researchers and medical clinicians continue their ground-breaking work into healing spinal cord injuries.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the $5 million investment will support the pre-clinical development of a spinal cord therapy based on cells isolated from the nose – known as olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) - into a clinical trial.

The research aims to produce a 3D bio-degradable nerve cell bridge that can be transplanted to repair injured spinal cords.

“Griffith University’s research team has the unique know-how and clinical trial experience following the work of current Queenslander and Australian of the Year Professor Emeritus Alan Mackay-Sim,” the Premier said.

“Griffith’s spinal injury cure project has the potential to help remove barriers for spinal cord nerve cells and enable functional recovery – which would position Queensland research as the global leader in this key medical research and injury recovery field.

“I’m delighted to be providing this $5 million funding over the next three years to continue to support the pioneering work being undertaken by a great Queensland-based team of researchers and clinicians.”

Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the funding will be provided by the Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC), the regulatory authority responsible for regulating Queensland’s compulsory third party insurance scheme.

“MAIC can see that this has the potential to substantially lower health costs and could provide associated benefits through improved productivity of patients and carers; as well as generate jobs through training and physiotherapy,” Mr Pitt said.

“Across Australia there are around 12,000 people with spinal cord injury, a large number of which have occurred as a result of motor vehicle accidents. 

“The associated economic cost of these injuries, including health system, carer support and loss of productivity, is estimated to be more than $2 billion each year.

“In Queensland, an analysis of Compulsory Third Party claims finalised in 2016 shows spinal cord injury claims costs totalled $42.6 million.

“However you look at it, the cost of spinal cord injury is a significant one for individuals, their families and carers and the broader community.”

Dr James St John, Head of the Clem Jones Centre for Neurobiology and Stem Cell Research at Griffith University, will lead the project working alongside a team of high quality research staff mostly from across south east Queensland.

Dr St John said the vital funding would provide a range of large scale benefits to Queensland and more broadly internationally. 

“Having support from the Queensland Government through MAIC builds on the research developed by funding from the Clem Jones Group and the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation.

Dr St John said Perry Cross’ unstinting support in the early days was crucial.

“We are at this exciting stage now because of Perry and his unshakeable belief and commitment to discover life-changing treatments. 

“This project aims to produce a 3D bio-degradable cell nerve bridge that can be transplanted to repair the injured spinal cord.

“We also aim to establish a post-surgery physiotherapy regime to promote a patient’s functional recovery.” 


The use of transplantation of autologous (a patient’s own) cells to repair injured spinal cord has been shown to be safe for use in humans and effective in restoring function – motor function and sensation – in at least one human. This therapy has its origins in Queensland with the world’s first Phase One clinical trial using autologous olfactory ensheathing cells conducted in Brisbane in 2002 led by Professor Emeritus Alan Mackay-Sim from the Eskitis Institute at Griffith University. Subsequently a team from the Cambridge University’s Stem Cell Institute applied this concept to cure spinal injury in dogs. In 2014, a British/Polish study showed this theory can result in dramatic recovery from spinal cord injury in humans with a patient with chronic spinal cord injury regaining motor and sensory function.

 Please contact for further enquiries.

 9 News Queensland Facebook Story - 10 May



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