Scientists at the Lions Eye Institute were thrilled to recently take delivery of Western Australia’s first and only stem cell robot, a gamechanger for medical research into inherited retinal diseases.
The stem cell robot arrived in Perth from Switzerland in June 2023. It will enable the Lions Eye Institute’s research teams to find treatments for the many children living with inherited retinal diseases including 2020 Little Telethon star Eamon Doak. The stem cell robot is a multi-purpose machine that can be used for research into a large number of childhood diseases including cancer, diabetes and inherited diseases like cystic fibrosis and inherited retinal diseases. The robot is the first in Western Australia to be used for stem cell research into eye related disorders.
“With this vital piece of medical equipment, we will have one of the best systems in the country to expediate our stem cell research,” said Dr Sam McLenachan, a leading researcher in genetic eye disease at the Lions Eye Institute”.
Stem cells can be used as models for studying human diseases in the affected tissues, as well as for screening potential treatments. The robot will automate this stem cell work, accelerating the rate at which scientists can study the causes of disease and develop new treatments and cures.
The stem cell robot is named “MooAlle” in memory of the Doak family’s two eldest children, Maddison and Alexandra. The girls, who were affectionately called “Moo” and “Alle” by their family, were tragically lost in a plane crash in 2011. The youngest Doak siblings, Eamon and Kealan, were diagnosed with Usher syndrome in 2018, an inherited retinal disease which will gradually rob them of their sight. The stem cell robot will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week in order to accelerate crucial scientific discoveries that could save Eamon and Kealan’s sight.
The purchase of the stem cell robot was made possible thanks to Channel 7 Telethon Trust, Rhonda Wyllie and the Western Australian community. Thank you for supporting our work to save the sight of children like Eamon and Kealan.