The Canadian Stem Cell Strategy

FOLLOWING THROUGH-logo-CMYKThe next decade will see a flood of novel and improved treatments for diseases and injuries that have baffled medical science for centuries. These treatments will lead to more effective therapies for chronic conditions that are pushing our health care system beyond sustainability.

The Strategy, In Brief

Following Through: Realizing The Promise of Stem Cells

“For decades, stem cells have been able to replace diseased bone marrow as well as cure leukemia and many other blood cancers. We have learned to harness the potential of stem cells and are now building on what we have learned. Tissue repair and cures for a multitude of diseases are now within reach. The Canadian Strategy & Action Plan can make that possible.”Denis-Claude Roy, Scientific Director, Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Research Centre CEO, CellCAN Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapy Network
“We have many of the key pieces in place to build a dynamic stem cell industry that will not only revolutionize medicine but will also create the kind of knowledge-economy jobs and biotech manufacturing base to drive Canadian prosperity in the 21st century. The Strategy & Action Plan can take Canadian research and commercialization ‎to that next level.”Michael May, CEO, Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine
“The promise of stem cells is on the verge of being fulfilled, with new treatments for many chronic diseases. As a health charity leader, I’m excited about the possibilities for new ways of treating — and potentially curing — diabetes and I see the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan as a vehicle to help us get there.”J. Richard Blickstead, President and CEO, Canadian Diabetes Association
“Canadian scientists are among the world leaders in stem cell research. The Canadian Stem Cell Network was the first of its kind and has played a vital role over the past decade in creating the critical mass needed to drive research toward clinical and commercial applications. We can’t afford to lose this momentum.”Michael Rudnicki, Scientific Director and CEO, Stem Cell Network
“One of the key strengths of the Strategy is that it brings together the scientists, clinicians, health charities, patients, business people and philanthropists. This is a pan-Canadian effort that spans all disease types. There is a massive group of communities behind the Strategy & Action Plan.”David Young, Chair, Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization CEO, Actium Research Inc.
“There are few areas of health research that are as exciting and that hold as much potential for human health and treating diseases as stem cells. Canadians have been at the forefront of stem cell research from its early beginnings to the present day.”Alan Bernstein, Chair, Board of Directors, Canadian Stem Cell Foundation President & CEO, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Founding President Canadian Institutes of Health Research
“If we have a national strategy we’re going to be far more productive. In Canada, we can do more with a dollar than virtually any other country in the world. My sense is that’s why the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy is so critical. If we have the ability to do that – if we have the support – we can produce some particularly spectacular results.”Carlo Fidani, Chair, Orlando Corporation and noted philanthropist
“From a business perspective, I see stem cells coming into force. They were first isolated in Canada about 50 years ago by Till and McCulloch, and Canada is well-engaged in many areas of research and development. So, the potential is there. But you don’t capture potential if you don’t invest in it. Canada should be moving this forward and taking a leadership role.”Charlie Fischer, Retired President & CEO of Nexen Inc.
“The Strategy will enable us to align priorities, resources, scientists and ultimately business to get the best stem cell science in the world to the patient as quickly and safely as possible.”Martha Piper, Former President and Vice Chancellor, University of British Columbia Corporate Director, BMO Financial Group, TransAlta Corp., Shoppers Drug Mart
“Stem cells hold the key to the future. If we can translate our scientific discoveries into clinical practice we can significantly reduce the toll that disease is taking on people’s lives, make our health care system sustainable and reap economic rewards.”L. Jacques Ménard, Chair of BMO Nesbitt Burns and President of BMO Financial Group, Québec Chancellor of Concordia University
“Canadians spend over $200 billion a year on health care. Two thirds of that goes to managing currently incurable diseases. Imagine the impact if we could find new treatments and even cures. Stem cell research and development is putting us at the tipping point where that is now within reach. It’s clearly time to move forward in a decisive co-ordinated effort and the Stem Cell Strategy is the right vehicle to do it.”Stephen Snyder, Retired President & CEO, TransAlta Corp and former CEO of GE Canada
“The Strategy & Action Plan will accelerate the translation of stem cell research into new therapies like the one I received – the one that gave me my life back. We can better the lives of countless people facing immeasurable challenges. Individuals who deserve a second chance of life – much like my second chance of life.”Tina Ceroni, Stem cell transplant recipient
“Stem cell science is a futures issue where Canada can be a global leader. It is an area where we are truly strong, have a proud history and in which our smartest rank among the best in the world. We’ve already made good investments in the infrastructure. This is a great opportunity for Canada to lead and succeed.”David Hennigar, Chair & CEO, Thornridge Holdings
“Because stem cells have such a vast role to play in how we treat heart disease, diabetes and other diseases, it’s imperative that all of us — scientists, medical professionals, health charity champions, business leaders and philanthropists — work together in a co-ordinated and organized way. The Strategy brings those groups together to address that challenge and produce real results.”Eric Newell, Chancellor Emeritus, University of Alberta Retired Chair & CEO, Syncrude Canada Ltd.
“As opposed to just asking for more money for research, the Strategy deals with the policy changes that need to be addressed and how the regulatory process will be critical to getting Canada to where we want to be: a world leader in producing new treatments and therapies. It sets out the path Canada needs to follow and the actions we need to take to get us there.”Gerald Grandey, Retired CEO, Cameco Corporation
“The Strategy & Action Plan bolsters Canada’s competitive advantage in the next wave of regenerative medicine and our ability to create a vibrant stem cell industry that generates skilled jobs, boosts the economy, improves health outcomes and brings new therapies to the clinic.”Nancy & Jon Love, Founder and Managing Partner, KingSett Capital
“I’m living proof of the tremendous potential that exists with stem cell research. I got a second chance at life. This Action Plan will help others like me live free of illness and disease.”Jennifer Molson, Stem cell transplant recipient
“We are at an incredibly exciting time in science where our research is leading to new treatments and therapies.”Janet Rossant, Chief of Research at The Hospital for Sick Children
“I’m proud to be a part of this historic coalition. The Action Plan is ready to move forward and already has received private-sector support. Support from all governments will ensure companies like mine are able to create local jobs and, most importantly, transform stem cell research into tangible products and lifesaving therapies.”Allen Eaves, Founder and CEO of STEMCELL Technologies Inc.
“Canada has always been a leader in stem cell research. With this Action Plan and the infrastructure already in place, we have the capacity to transform health care by helping millions of Canadians through new, life-changing therapies and long-term economic growth.”James Price, President and CEO of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation.

We Need A Canadian Stem Cell Strategy

Making stem cell science a national priority and investing in the Canadian Strategy will enable Canada to go further, faster towards new treatments and improved health for Canadians; better, more sustainable health care; and new therapies and products developed in Canada to create economic benefits for Canada.

In the news:

A crucial moment in time

Exploiting our stem cell technology advantage

Make Canada a magnet for stem cell clinical trials 

The health benefits and economic opportunities are significant. We are already using stem cells to treat leukemia, multiple myeloma and other blood cancers as well as new applications for chronic would healing. There potential to do even more, such as

  • using our own cells to treat respiratory and heart diseases;
  • restoring lost vision using our own retinal stem cells;
  • creating a source of insulin-producing cells to treat diabetes;
  • repairing damaged spinal cords;
  • reversing the effects of MS, Crohn’s disease and other autoimmune disorders;
  • reducing the ravages of Parkinson’s disease; and
  • targeting cancer stem cells to stop and reverse tumour formation in the brain, breast and other solid tissues.

Canada, boasting an outstanding record of scientific excellence and a strong culture of collaboration, is poised to take advantage of this rapid transformation and development of new therapies, clinical approaches and technologies:

  • Canada is one of the top two or three countries in the world in stem cell research based on both academic measures of success (citations) and commercial indicators (influential patents).
  • Canada’s collaborative stem cell research eco-system is admired around the world. The Stem Cell Network has been instrumental in forging a cohesive research enterprise among leading scientists, bioengineers, and clinicians in research centres across the country.
  • Canada’s translational effort has been enhanced by new initiatives and investments. The Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine is piloting new models for clinical translation, commercialization and industry development.
  • Clinical trial capacity has been enhanced by recent private and public investments in five new specialized cell-manufacturing facilities across Canada – providing the capacity to conduct  50-75 new cell-based clinical trials over the next five years.

Canada has the power to create a new world – one in which we are able to reduce suffering and death from heart attacks, cancer, diabetes and other devastating and debilitating diseases. With the advancements made in stem cell research, it’s within our reach. Not 30 years from now – but in 10.

Thanks to wise investments, world-class expertise and strong planning, Canadian scientists have taken great strides in the lab, and are, over the next few years, poised to transform their progress into new, effective treatments. If we make the right decisions now, their work could profoundly impact Canadians and patients around the world for decades to come.

Other stem cell powers, well aware of the enormous potential of stem cell R&D, are moving quickly:

  • Japan has committed  more than $1 billion to accelerate clinical application of research using induced pluripotent stem cells.
  • In the United States, California has committed more than $3 billion to stem cell research and regenerative medicine over 10 years. New York $550 million over 11 years. Maryland: $100 million over five years.
  • The United Kingdom is investing heavily in regenerative medicine and its House of Lords recently recommended that Britain act now to prevent falling behind the U.S. and Japan.

The Canadian Stem Cell Strategy will:

  • unite research institutions, scientists, health charities, industry partners, regulators, funders and philanthropists in a common vision for realizing the promise of stem cell science and regenerative medicine;
  • align the stem cell community and stakeholders in a concerted effort to set priorities and leverage our collective strengths to maximize health and economic benefits; and
  • secure long-term public and private sector support and appropriate funding to fulfill the promise of stem cells.

Several prominent Canadians and organizations have already joined in this quest.

See them here