What will it take to move regenerative medicine forward so that it can deliver more cures and treatments for age-old diseases?
That’s the subject of the First PanCanadian Strategic Forum on Cell and Gene Therapy to be held March 9 and 10 at the Westin Montreal.
“The cell and gene therapy ecosystem in Canada is coming to a level of maturity where we’re going to be ready to reap the fruit from it,” says Dr. Anne-Marie Alarco, former Chief Scientific Officer of CellCAN — Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapy Network. “But it’s not going to happen passively. We have to put action in place.”
CellCAN is organizing the Forum in partnership with the Centre for Commercialization of Cancer Immunotherapy (C3i) and BioCanRx.
There is a sense of urgency to begin harvesting the “low hanging fruit,” says Dr. Alarco. Otherwise, she says, Canada could miss out.
Unlike the annual Till & McCulloch Meetings, which focus on the most recent scientific advances in cell therapies and regenerative medicine, the Strategic Forum will concentrate on what’s needed to move therapies into the clinic. Organizers expect to draw a range of academics, scientists, health agency representatives, government regulators, venture capitalists and business leaders from pharma and biotech.
“The idea is to bring together all the major stakeholders,” says Dr. Alarco, “to determine where we are in terms of cell therapies and gene therapies. We have all the elements for what we hope will be an interactive conversation. Hopefully, we will come up with a number action items.”
Lectures and workshops will consider ways to overcome barriers to implementing cell and gene therapies in Canada; build on effective commercialization for the benefit of all Canadians; and identify reimbursement possibilities for developing novel therapies..
Keynote speaker Dr Janet Rossant, President & Scientific Director of the Gairdner Foundation and Chair of the steering committee of the Council of Canadian Academies Workshop on Regenerative Medicine. Their soon-to-be-released report was commissioned by the federal government.
As well, speakers from the United Kingdom, Japan and California will discuss steps taken in their jurisdictions to move the science from the researchers’ laboratories to the patients’ bedsides.
“It is the medicine of the future,” says Dr. Alarco. “We hope to have action items in for this to become a reality for Canadians.”