OTTAWA, ON- The Government of Canada says it is providing funding to support innovative stem cell research in such areas septic shock, diabetes, brain injury and 3D printing of neural tissues.
According to Canada’s Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan, $9 million will go towards projects and clinical trials that will be funded through the Stem Cell Network (SCN). The funding is part of $12 million provided to the network in Budget 2016. The funding round is being matched with partner support of $20 million.
In all, SCN with this round is funding 31 goal-directed projects from across Canada, moving research from the lab bench to the bedside. In addition to supporting stem cell research in areas like brain injury, kidney disease and breast cancer, SCN researchers are also working to tackle emerging policy issues relevant to the field, such as gene editing and misleading marketing claims.
“For years, Canadian researchers have been known leaders in regenerative medicine,” said Duncan. “The funding announced today will support projects that encourage important partnerships between universities, hospitals and businesses so they may collaborate on bold new stem cell technologies and health innovations that will improve the lives of Canadians.”
“We are a nation of leaders and innovators, it is in our DNA,” adds Dr. Michael Rudnicki, OC, scientific director of SCN. “The regenerative medicine research sector is fueled by stem cells and today it is at a tipping point, with the potential to see breakthroughs in our generation. I am thrilled that SCN is able to power the foundation of scientific excellence that exists within Canada’s universities, research hospitals and institutes.”
SCN is flowing funds through three strategic programs:
The Clinical Trials Program will provide $4.214M for six trials. A total of 38 investigators (6 Principal Investigators & 32 Co-Investigators) at 12 institutions and 50 trainees will be engaged in these trials, which will determine the safety and efficacy of new stem cell treatments in humans. This is the first time in SCN’s history that it has offered support for clinical trials. This program supports Phase 1/2 trials with the potential to be economically viable for health care systems and show a benefit to patients. Funded trials will focus on a spectrum of health issues including treating fatal illnesses such as septic shock, evaluating a stem cell therapy for diabetes, and expanding stem cells from cord blood for efficacious and cost effective transplantation. Researchers will also be working in the areas of acute myocardial infarction, liver transplantation and type 1 diabetes.
The Disease Team Research Agreement Program will provide $3.281M for eight projects. A total of 41 investigators (8 Principal Investigators & 33 Co-Investigators) at 11 institutions and more than 80 trainees will be engaged. Multidisciplinary teams supported through this program are focused on novel cellular or stem cell-related therapeutic approaches to treat disease. Commercialization is an important component for this program, as projects must demonstrate a path to market or clinic. Research supported from this competition will address treatments for diseases such as arthritis, liver failure, and type 1 diabetes. In addition, support will be provided to further ongoing research that is looking at existing drugs for the regeneration of neural tissue after a brain injury.
The Impact Research Agreement Program will provide $1.54M for 17 projects that span clinical translation, commercialization and public policy. A total of 27 investigators (17 Principal Investigators & 10 Co-investigators) at 15 research institutions will benefit and more than 60 trainees will be engaged. Diseases such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, and kidney disease will all be studied. Commercialization topics include 3D printing of neural tissues, and the scalable production of engineered micro tissues.
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