Taking regenerative medicine to the next level: University of Toronto receives $114-million federal grant

Written by Alexandra Thompson

The University of Toronto (ON, Canada) receives $114-million grant from the federal government’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), to ensure University of Toronto’s position as world leader of regenerative medicine

The University of Toronto (ON, Canada) published more regenerative medicine and stem cells, biomedical engineering and cell and tissue engineering articles in top scholarly journals from 2009 to 2013 than any university in the world except Harvard, and has a long-standing history of contributing to the field of regenerative medicine.

To guarantee its position as a world leader for the design and manufacture of therapies to treat degenerative diseases, the University of Toronto has received a $114-million grant from the federal government for a 7-year program known as ‘Medicine by Design’. This program aims to investigate transformational research and clinical translation in regenerative medicine, as well as improve research tools and promote commercialization.

“This program will allow us to take regenerative medicine to the next level,” explains Peter Zandstra, a professor in University of Toronto’s Institute for Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering and Medicine by Design project researcher. “We’ll be able to design cells, tissues, and organs from the ground up, hopefully with benefit to patients and benefit to the Canadian economy.”

The program will have three key areas, which will take an integrative approach by applying technologies such as genomic and immune engineering:

  • Cells by Design, aiming to create cells whose fate and function can be controlled to ensure safer and more effective therapies;
  • Tissues by Design, aiming to create complex tissues for use in research, drug discovery and replacing lost or damaged tissue in humans;
  • Organs by Design, aiming to create and repair organs outside the body and demonstrate how those organs can be successfully transplanted into human patients.

Zandstra continues: “Stem cells offer avenues to treat — and perhaps cure — devastating and costly illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, blindness, lung disease, neurodegenerative disorders, and diseases of the blood and musculoskeletal system … Medicine by Design provides a framework to design the cells, the materials and, ultimately, the clinical strategy needed to reach this goal.”

As well as having a positive impact on healthcare, the Medicine by Design program should boost the Canadian economy. The regenerative medicine market is predicted to grow to $50 billion by 2019, and the initiative is expected to generate several new startup companies as well as draw established international companies to Canada. “Our government is investing in research and innovation to create jobs, strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life of Canadians,” said the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology).

This funding builds on years of support from the Government of Canada. Grateful for this tremendous amount of funding, University of Toronto President Meric Gertler stated: “Our brilliant researchers and clinicians are doing cutting-edge work that is making Canada a world leader in regenerative medicine. I applaud them, and all those who helped prepare University of Toronto’s successful application for this historic research award.”

Source: http://news.utoronto.ca/u-t-transform-regenerative…