Canadian Stem Cell Strategy

01
Feb 2016
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CBC report highlights need for ‘big investment’ in stem cells

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A CBC News report highlights the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy and encourages the Government of Canada to make the next big investment in stem cells and regenerative medicine.…

A CBC News report highlights the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy and encourages the Government of Canada to make the next big investment in stem cells and regenerative medicine.

The article, published online yesterday, can be found here.

Headlined “Canada’s stem cell research needs ‘big investment’ to move forward” it quotes Dr. Janet Rossant, President & Director of the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine, as saying Canada does “extremely well on relatively small investments,” but we are not investing the same percentage in stem cell research and development as some of our competitor countries.

Reporter Joseph Quigley cites figures from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research that show the Government of Canada has invested about $705 million in stem cell research since 2001, including $64.5 million in the 2014-15 fiscal year.  In comparison, he notes, California — with a population similar to that of Canada — committed $3 billion in funding in 2004, to be rolled out over about 10 years.

“We’ve been at the forefront, we need to make that next big investment to move the field forward,” says James Price, President  & CEO of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation.

The Canadian Stem Cell Strategy, he points out, is focused on delivering 10 new curative therapies to the clinic in 10 years while producing 12,000 jobs for Canadians.

 

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13
Jan 2016
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Prime Minister Trudeau at today's announcment

Trudeau announces investment in cell manufacturing centre

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Today’s announcement of a new centre for advanced therapeutic cell technologies in Toronto is an investment in health-related technology, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Today’s announcement of a new centre for advanced therapeutic cell technologies in Toronto is an investment in health-related technology, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“The health of Canadians is a priority,” Prime Minister Trudeau said at the announcement. “We believe that supporting this new, world-class facility will have significant benefits for innovative health-related technology in Canada and around the world.

GE Healthcare and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario will invest a combined $40 million in partnership with the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) to build the centre in Toronto’s MARs discovery district, which is operated by a not-for-profit corporation to commercialize publicly funded medical research and other technologies.

According to a news release, the centre will speed the development of cell manufacturing technologies to improve patient access to new therapies.  Scaling up the quantity of stem cells to the vast numbers required for transplantation while ensuring the purity and quality of those cells is vital to moving the regenerative medicine field forward.

James Price, President and CEO of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation, attended the Toronto event and said the investment will enhance capacity to implement the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy, the private-public partnership that will deliver up to 10 new curative therapies to the clinic within 10 years.

“It’s key piece to the puzzle,” he said, noting that state of the art cell-manufacturing facilities are operating in Laval, Montreal, and Ottawa and that one will open its doors in Edmonton this summer.  “These kinds of developments boost Canada’s overall ability to produce cells and attract clinical trials so that we can begin delivering new treatments to a number of diseases.”

Michael May, President and CEO of CCRM, added: “We have built a strong industry consortium of nearly 50 companies to help drive a collaborative approach to realizing the potential of regenerative medicine. GE Healthcare already plays a leading role in that consortium and the company’s deep knowledge of the bioprocessing industry, combined with its global scale and health care insights, makes it the ideal anchor partner for the new centre.”

Kieran Murphy, CEO of GE Healthcare’s Life Sciences business, says it is “increasingly clear that cell therapies and regenerative medicine will transform health care globally, but successful industrialization is now crucial to widespread adoption. This new centre will enable us to work with cell therapy companies to push beyond existing technical limits and problem-solve.”

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19
Nov 2015
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Dr. Michael Rudnicki

Trudeau government urged to invest in stem cells

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A week after his lab unveiled its game-changing research into the root causes of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (read about it here), Dr.

A week after his lab unveiled its game-changing research into the root causes of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (read about it here), Dr. Michael Rudnicki is urging the new Trudeau government to “put its money where its future is: stem cell research.”

In an iPolitics piece published today, Dr. Rudnicki applauded the new government for appointing Dr. Kirsty Duncan as a full-standing minister of Science.

“This is a welcome development in a country that hasn’t been celebrated enough for its contributions to the global scientific research enterprise,” writes Dr. Rudnicki, Scientific Director and CEO of the Stem Cell Network (SCN).  “One area of research that is particularly underfunded in Canada is, ironically, one that can start making a drastic difference in the health of Canadians and people around the world: stem cell research and personalized medicine.”

He recommended the new government consider the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy, which he called “the most progressive results-orientated health care document produced in years.”  Crafted by a coalition of scientists, medical doctors, health charity executives, industry experts, business leaders and philanthropists, the Strategy is championed by the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation.

Thursday’s article is the second recent iPolitics piece advocating stronger investment in stem cell research and development. In August, Foundation President & CEO authored a piece titled Small cells, big future: Why we need a national stem cell effort.

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14
Sep 2015
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Globe & Mail: Want a flourishing economy? Invest in stem cell R&D.

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How can Canada’s leadership hopefuls nurse our ailing economy back to health without leaving it susceptible to the global viruses of the resource and manufacturing sectors?…

How can Canada’s leadership hopefuls nurse our ailing economy back to health without leaving it susceptible to the global viruses of the resource and manufacturing sectors?

By investing in stem cell research, according to the Globe & Mail’s list of 15 ways to create a flourishing economy.

On Saturday, the Globe’s Eric Andrew-Gee wrote that  while “pulling things out of the ground and hammering steel have been pillars of Canada’s economy for at least a generation,”swings in global demand have often left the country in the economic lurch. The Globe polled economists and public policy gurus to produce 15 smart ideas “that wring as much as possible out of the old economy and help a new economy flourish.”

Stem cell research is Number 10. The article noted that stem cell research “was invented in 1960s Toronto. So, some researchers have asked, why not make Canada a ‘magnet’ for such research today?”

While the federal government has indicated it understands the potential economic and disease-curing benefits of stem cells — most recently with at $114-million, seven-year grant to the University of Toronto — “more can be done,” given that California, with a population similar to Canada’s, has already invested $3 billion.

The Globe’s article resonates with sentiments expressed in an Aug. 24 op-ed by James Price, Canadian Stem Cell Foundation President and CEO. Published in iPolitics, the article makes it clear that “Canadians across the country want and need a national stem cell effort.”

Such a plan is ready. The Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan was developed by Canada’s top researchers, medical professionals, health charity leaders, industry partners and to position Canada to deliver up to 10 new curative therapies to the clinic within 10 years. While federal funding is needed to launch the program, two-thirds of its support will come from non-federal sources.

Help boost the economy and save lives. Tell the politicians seeking your vote that you support the stem cell Action Plan. Just click here. It takes less than two minutes.

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08
Sep 2015
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T&M Meetings bring together top minds in stem cell field

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Our Foundation is proud to be a major sponsor of the Till & McCulloch Meetings, Canada’s premier stem cell research event.…

Our Foundation is proud to be a major sponsor of the Till & McCulloch Meetings, Canada’s premier stem cell research event.

Named after Drs. James Till and Ernest McCulloch, the conference brings together Canada’s leading stem cell scientists, clinicians, bioengineers and ethicists, as well as representatives from industry, government, health and NGO sectors from around the world. The 2015 Till & McCulloch Meetings will take place in Toronto from October 26-28, 2015 at the Sheraton Centre Hotel.

For more information about the conference or to register click here.

This year’s session will feature several scientists whose innovative research has been highlighted in this space, including Drs. Jeff Biernaskie, Connie Eaves, Tim Kieffer and Ivar Mendez. As well, Foundation President & CEO James Price and Board Chair Dr. Alan Bernstein will update delegates on the progress being made to secure support for implementing the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan. To show your support for the Strategy, click here.

 

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20
Aug 2015
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Dr. Brian Goldman

More than politics: why health – and stem cells – should be an election issue

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Dr. Brian Goldman, host of CBC Radio’s weekly medical show White Coat, Black Art, wants to know why health care has fallen off the discussion table in this year’s federal election.…

Dr. Brian Goldman, host of CBC Radio’s weekly medical show White Coat, Black Art, wants to know why health care has fallen off the discussion table in this year’s federal election.

In his blog, he points to the Maclean’s magazine “Federal Issues 2015” rundown of what the federal parties are talking about during the election and notes the following:

“Terrorism made the list. So did defence spending. Jobs, crime, climate. No problem. Heath care? Nada.”

Dr. Goldman, an emergency room physician when he’s not broadcasting his view-from-the-front-lines show on the state of health care, wants to know why party leaders aren’t talking about our struggling health care system and what they might do to fix it.

We agree. Our Foundation has been actively advocating for the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan — a private-sector led plan to deliver up to 10 new curative therapies within 10 years. The Plan aligns the key players — scientists, doctors, industry experts, health charity leaders and philanthropists — to follow through on the promise of stem cells to come up with cures that have baffled medical science for centuries.  You can watch a short video of what scientists doing the research hope to do here.

Health — and stem cells’ role in health care — should be a major election issue.  Health is always top of mind for all Canadians. In early 2014, Abacus Data reported that health care was the number one issue for Canadian voters — well ahead of taxes and job creation. Just last Christmas, the Toronto Star’s political columnist Susan Delacourt predicted that health care would be one of two sleeper issues of the 2015 election campaign:

“…rather than ask the pundits for their predictions about the ballot-box issue for the 2015 election, maybe we should be asking what was on the minds of people around the holiday dinner table this week (besides seconds or desserts). My bet? Health care and seniors’ issues. If Canadian families are not already grappling with health-care concerns at this immediate moment, many are expecting to be juggling matters related to senior care, especially as the population ages.”

So where did health go as an election issue?

Stuff happened. When the price of a barrel of crude oil drops from $107 US to hovering just above $40, it tends to grab the attention of everyone living in a country with a resource-based economy. Canada has also suffered two deadly acts of terrorism this past year, heightening our fears about security in a troubled world. And now the Mike Duffy trial has replaced the weather as the topic du jour at backyard barbecues.

It’s a shame, because our health is absolutely paramount to everything in life. It is a rare Canadian family without someone — an elderly parent, a partner, a child, a niece or nephew — who is struggling with a debilitating, chronic health condition.

Stem cells were discovered in Canada and Canadian researchers are on the verge of delivering stem cell cures for devastating conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, MS & Parkinson’s. We need the Action Plan to make it happen right here, right now. Beyond saving lives, it would also ease the strain on health care — and boost the economy.

We are calling on the Government of Canada and all political parties to commit to contributing just one-third of the investments, about $50 million annually over 10 years.  You can find out everything about the Action Plan here. Then you can call on your local federal politician to support the Action Plan.

Because this is not just a political issue.  It’s more than an election issue.

It’s a life and death reality that touches us all.

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29
Jan 2015
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Canadian researchers unveil stem cell trial for MS

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A new clinical trial in Ottawa and Winnipeg will investigate the ability of stem cells to suppress inflammation and repair nerve tissue for people with Multiple Sclerosis, researchers announced Thursday.…

A new clinical trial in Ottawa and Winnipeg will investigate the ability of stem cells to suppress inflammation and repair nerve tissue for people with Multiple Sclerosis, researchers announced Thursday.

“The MS Society of Canada is proud to be investing in the first Canadian clinical trial studying the ability of mesenchymal stem cells to treat multiple sclerosis,” Yves Savoie, President and CEO, MS Society of Canada, said in a media release. “As Canada has the highest rate of the MS in the world, we are excited that Canadian researchers are among the leaders in developing a novel and effective cell-based treatment.”

The $4.2-million clinical trial, co-led by the University of Ottawa’s Dr. Mark Freedman and Dr. James J. Marriott of the University of Manitoba, is called MESCAMS (for MEsenchymal Stem cell therapy for CAnadian MS patients). It will involve 40 patients — 20 in each city — who will receive either mesenchymal stem cells extracted from their own bone marrow or a mock solution to see if the effects of the stem cells are real or triggered by a “placebo effect.”

For information about clinical trial eligibility and enrollment, click here.

“This is absolutely the kind of clinical trial that Canadians will see more of with the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan,” said James Price, CEO & President of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation. “The Strategy is about bringing more clinical trials to Canada so that Canadians have early access to therapies that are proven to be safe and effective.”

As reported by Elizabeth Payne in the Ottawa Citizen, recent publicity around hockey legend Gordie Howe’s experimental stem cell treatment in Tijuana for stroke has focused attention on a growing international stem cell tourism industry offering unproven, untested therapies. “There is so much noise about stem cells in general and the hype that surrounds them, we are doing this study properly so we can answer the question for once and for all,” Dr. Freedman told the newspaper.

“Canada has a world-class stem cell sector and we are poised to bring new treatments to the clinic,” said Mr. Price.  “That’s why implementing the Action Plan is so important. It will mean that rigorously tested, safe and effective therapies are developed right here at home.”

Readers of this blog may be familiar with the story of Jennifer Molson who took part in a previous stem cell trial in Ottawa conducted by Dr. Freedman and Dr. Harry Atkins.  She is now free from all her previously debilitating MS symptoms. Unlike that study, which involved transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells to re-boot the immune system, there is no requirement for chemotherapy in MESCAMS.

The MESCAMS trial is part of a larger, international research effort led by Dr. Freedman and Dr.  Antonio Uccelli at the University of Genoa in Italy. The international effort links researchers from nine countries who are undertaking parallel research.

Funding for the trial, announced by the MS Society of Canada and the Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research Foundation, is also being provided by Research Manitoba and A&W Food Services of Canada

 

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10
Nov 2014
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Carlo Fidani,

It makes economic sense

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Why the CEO of Orlando Corp. believes we need a Canadian Stem Cell Strategy

Supporting health research comes naturally to Carlo Fidani.…

Why the CEO of Orlando Corp. believes we need a Canadian Stem Cell Strategy

Supporting health research comes naturally to Carlo Fidani. It’s in his blood.

“My grandfather was a benevolent man” says Mr. Fidani, Chair and CEO of the Orlando Corporation, one of the oldest and most successful construction and real estate development companies in Canada. “Even in the Depression, when we he didn’t have much, he found ways to help people.”

His father, Orey Fidani, inherited the generosity gene and “felt that investing in health care was something he could do to help the most people.” He passed the character trait along to Carlo, who has taken things to new heights.  In 2011, responding to the shortage of doctors in Ontario, Mr. Fidani contributed $10 million toward the University of Toronto’s Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex to train more students to become MDs. He has also made major donations to advance cancer and mental health research and treatment.

He supports the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan, “because the promise of stem cells is massive.” The man whose company controls more than 40 million square feet of commercial real estate in the Greater Toronto Area sees beyond potential stem cell cures and treatments. He sees the science yielding significant economic dividends.

“The medical aspect of the stem cell is only a part of it. It’s also the economics. If we can reverse the damage of a heart attack, or help someone out who has Parkinson’s or repair a spine, can you imagine what that would do to for the financial model of our health care system?”

Noting that Canada “has always been at the epicentre of stem cell science,” he sees stem cell R&D boosting our economy by creating high-quality jobs. “It’s important from the economics perspective that we continue to find drivers of employment for highly talented people. If we want to consider ourselves a knowledge-based society, this to me is a perfect landing pad for future opportunities.”

To make it all work, though, will mean bringing together the stem cell scientists, the federal and provincial governments and Canadian industry – all pooling their resources and expertise to create and implement the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy.

“It’s no different than running a business. If we have a national strategy we’re going to be far more productive.  Right now the stem cell community is not getting the financial support it needs. In Canada, we can do more with a dollar than virtually any other country in the world.  My sense is that’s why the Strategy is so critical. If we have the ability to do that – if we have the support –  we can produce some particularly spectacular results.”

 

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29
Oct 2014
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Strategy & Action Plan promises major leap forward to alleviate human suffering

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Today is the official launch of the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan to chart  the course for Canada to lead the way in bringing up to 10 breakthrough therapies to the clinic by 2025.…

final press release

 

Today is the official launch of the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan to chart  the course for Canada to lead the way in bringing up to 10 breakthrough therapies to the clinic by 2025.

The 10-year Action Plan outlined in a new report Following Through: Realizing the Promise of Stem Cells – A Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan (2015-2025)  was created by scientists, medical professionals, leaders from major health charities, industry experts and philanthropists. It is backed up by an in-depth study by KPMG and has been endorsed by an international panel of experts. The report explains how Canada can transform health care and reduce suffering and death from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, vision loss, spinal cord injury and other devastating conditions.

Multiple sclerosis survivor Jennifer Molson was on hand at a press conference on Parliament Hill to support the Action Plan. Molson has been symptom-free for 12 years after receiving a stem cell transplant in a Canadian-led clinical trial. “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.”

“Canada has always been a leader in stem cell research,” said James Price, President and CEO of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation. “With this Action Plan and the infrastructure already in place, we have the capacity to transform health care in Canada by helping millions of Canadians through new, life-changing therapies and long-term economic growth.”

Dr. Janet Rossant, head of research at SickKids Hospital, said the time is right for Canada to seize the opportunity to move stem cell science forward: “We are at an incredibly exciting time in science where our research is leading to new treatments and therapies.”

“I’m proud to be a part of this historic coalition,” said Dr. Allen Eaves, Founder and CEO of STEMCELL Technologies Inc. “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.”

Quick facts

  • The Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan calls for a $1.5-billion public-private investment over 10 years, including a $50-million average scaled annual commitment by the Government of Canada.
  • The Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine estimates the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan could generate more than 12,000 jobs for Canadians via the growth of existing companies and the development of new enterprises that reach global markets.
  • In 2013, more than $200 billion was spent on health care in Canada. Two thirds of that money was used to treat incurable diseases. Stem cell research, cell therapy and regenerative medicine are working towards treatment options for these diseases.
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28
Oct 2014
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Cured patient and Canadian stem cell leaders to make major announcement

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On Wednesday morning, a young woman cured by a stem cell treatment will join with a coalition representing Canadian stem cell researchers, medical professionals, business leaders and health charities for a press conference on Parliament Hill for a major announcement on Parliament Hill about the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan.  …

On Wednesday morning, a young woman cured by a stem cell treatment will join with a coalition representing Canadian stem cell researchers, medical professionals, business leaders and health charities for a press conference on Parliament Hill for a major announcement on Parliament Hill about the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan.  Please revisit this space tomorrow for details.

 

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