Earlier this month, the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, announced the establishment of the Centre for the Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) with a $15 million initial investment. The CCRM will be based in Toronto and is one of five new CECR’s funded through the Networks of Centres of Excellence program.
While stem cell research continues to make rapid progress and we are now seeing initial transition into the clinic, in relative terms the regenerative medicine industry is still in its infancy. This new Centre seeks to focus energy and resources into leveraging Canada’s research investment into a commercial presence in three emerging technology platforms that will be crucial to the long-term development of a Canadian regenerative medicine industry.
The closer cell based therapies get to the clinic, the more obvious and urgent become the more practical manufacturing and bioengineering issues relevant to delivering cells at scale to patients. Cell isolation and purity, expansion while maintaining function, batch-to-batch potency, and cryopreservation are critical issues that remain to be addressed. Systematic and repeatable manufacturing solutions need to be developed in partnership with industry. Consistent and repeatable delivery of cells at scale, especially cardiomyocytes and hepatocytes, is also being called for by the pharmaceutical industry to enable enhanced predictive toxicology testing, and screening for new drug targets. As a result, CCRM’s initiative to develop new technologies to enable and support GMP cell manufacturing facility will yield many practical clinical and commercial applications over the next five years.