The 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
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:
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.