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Turning the Tide in Stem Cell Research in Canada with $4M in New Funding

By May 1, 2018No Comments

The Stem Cell Network (SCN) announces that they have received funding of $4 million for innovative stem cell and regenerative medicine research that will help translate discoveries into better health and economic growth for Canadians. This funding was made available thanks to a 2017 budget commitment by the Government of Canada and followed a competitive peer-reviewed process facilitated by SCN.

SCN will support a total of 24 goal-directed projects from across Canada that are moving research from lab bench to bedside in areas such as brain injury, muscular dystrophy and vision repair. These new, high-impact projects will engage 95 scientists and more than 150 trainees across the country. Three projects are directly supporting early stage cell-therapy clinical trials in multiple myeloma, type 1 diabetes and heart disease. This funding is being matched almost 3:1 with partner support valued at more than $11 million.

“The strength of Canada’s stem cell research sector has long been tied to its collaborative nature and strong community,” says Dr. Michael Rudnicki, OC, Scientific Director of SCN. “This has enabled SCN to build exceptional, world-leading teams that are tackling some of the most pressing health challenges of our time. Thanks to their efforts, regenerative medicine is now at a point where we are seeing stem cell based therapies moving into the clinic and made available to patients.”

In Canada, chronic diseases cost $190 billion each year, a healthcare burden that continues to outpace economic growth. However, the disruptive power of stem cells makes it possible to turn the tide – even a single new treatment for a costly disease has the potential to save millions of dollars for the healthcare system.

The work of Dr. Freda Miller at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), whose cutting-edge research has the potential to improve the outcomes for children and youth living with brain trauma, giving them the opportunity for a fuller, more productive life, is an example of such innovation. Her approach uses an inexpensive, common drug to stimulate brain repair and will be advanced to a clinical trial through an SCN Disease Team award.

“As a member of the Stem Cell Network since 2001, I can unequivocally say that I have benefitted greatly from being part of a national community. With the funding support announced today, my team can continue our efforts to bring new therapies to the clinic,” says Dr. Miller, a neurobiologist at The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute in Toronto. “I’m grateful to the Stem Cell Network for their leadership and support; and I look forward to seeing this research benefitting Canadians who live with brain trauma.”