Mesenchymal Stem Cells


Dr Paul Simmons Ph.D

Research & New Product Development, Mesoblast

Prof Stan Gronthos Bsc, MSc, Ph.D

NHMRC Principal Research Fellow, University of Adelaide; Mesenchymal Stem Cell Laboratory, University of Adelaide & South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI)

Prof Andrew Zannettino BSc (Hons), Ph.D

Professor, Experimental Haematology, University of Adelaide; Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide


Found around blood vessels, mesenchymal stem cells are rare cells that respond to signals associated with tissue damage. Dr Simmons, and Professors Gronthos and Zannettino identified a mechanism to isolate these cells from adult blood. These cell banks can then be used in a variety of therapies across the health spectrum. Mesoblast has now developed these cells to be used in treating disease of the heart, bone and joints. This brilliant medical discovery allows the body to repair itself using these introduced cells.

AusHealth Research's Contribution

AusHealth Research approached licencing candidates worldwide before meeting Professor Silviu Itescu who negotiatied a licence to develop this exciting new technology and its eventual assignment to Mesoblast Ltd. Prof Itescu, along with researchers at the RAH and IMVS, could see futuristic treatments using mesenchymal cells to repair damaged parts of the body, such as the heart after an attack, bones after fracture, and more.

AusHealth Research drove the success of Mesoblast through both the development of the enabling technology, and the commercial support in licencing and eventual assignment to Mesoblast. This was the company’s greatest commercial success, having been integral to the formation of a significant international biotech firm.

Valued at over AU$1.5bn in 2015, the Australian Financial Review identified Mesoblast as “the most successful commercialisation of biotech in the last two decades.” This licence provided significant value to the South Australian economy, resulting in over $20m in shares transferred to SA Pathology.