Opportunities and Challenges for Regenerative Medicine in Canada
Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and Health Canada have asked the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) to undertake a workshop assessment on the opportunities and challenges for regenerative medicine in Canada. The project is meant to highlight Canada’s strengths in this area relative to other countries, and will be used to inform the ongoing review of fundamental science in Canada more generally. Specifically, the project will explore the state of science in this area and the following questions will be discussed in a facilitated workshop:
1. What are Canada’s strengths in regenerative medicine (and why are they strengths)? Consider the following categories:
- Basic research
- Development of cell-based regenerative therapies
- Drug, device, and technology development
- Translation of therapies to the clinic
- Human resources and capital
- Regulatory/ethics environment
- Funding environment/resource allocation
2. Given these strengths, what are the opportunities that exist and barriers that must be overcome for Canada to ensure that it can excel at regenerative medicine in the international arena?
A two-day workshop was held in Toronto, Ontario on October 13 to 14 on the state of regenerative medicine in Canada. It was guided by the Workshop Steering Committee, and attended by 18 Workshop Participants. The results of the workshop will be published in a report to be released in early 2017.
Many disease treatments manage the symptoms of a condition, but fail to treat its underlying causes. The appeal of regenerative medicine lies in its curative approach. It replaces or regenerates human cells, tissues, or organs to restore or establish normal function using stem cells. A well-established example of regenerative medicine is the use of bone marrow transplants for leukemia.
Regenerative medicine has the potential to transform healthcare by treating previously incurable chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and spinal cord injuries. In doing so it could also improve the quality of peoples’ lives and generate significant economic benefits. Regenerative medicine is a multidisciplinary field, involving a number of stakeholders throughout the development process; from the scientists who make applied research discoveries which enable the possibility of treatment, through regulatory hurdles and industry investment, to end-point clinicians offering these treatments to patients.
The CCA’s workshop will bring together experts from a variety of disciplines and sectors to offer insight into the state of regenerative medicine in Canada, and identify opportunities and challenges to ensure future Canadian excellence.
Workshop Steering Committee and Participants
To lead the development of the workshop and complete the necessary background research, the CCA has appointed a four-member Steering Committee, chaired by Dr. Janet Rossant, President & Scientific Director, Gairdner Foundation. Other steering committee members are Dr. Tania Bubela, Professor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Dr. Allen Eaves, President & CEO of STEMCELL Technologies, and Dr. Michael Rudnicki, Senior Scientist & Director, Regenerative Medicine Program and Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and CEO and Scientific Director, Stem Cell Network.
Workshop attendees participated in a two-day discussion to respond to the charge set out by Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and Health Canada. The participants had expertise, experience, and demonstrated leadership in Canadian research and development in the area of regenerative medicine; translating research into clinical practice; public awareness; supportive infrastructure such as funding and collaborative networks; and policies governing research, clinical translation, and delivery of therapies. For a complete list of workshop participants, visit the Workshop Participants page.
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