Ontario invests $4.5 million in regenerative medicine research for heart disease, septic shock, pediatric brain repair and spinal cord injury

December 9, 2015, Toronto, ON
– New research funding in Ontario seeks to bring regenerative medicine therapies closer to the clinic for cardiovascular disease, septic shock, spinal cord injury and brain repair for children. These are some of the most devastating and costly illnesses, for which a regenerative medicine treatment could significantly improve quality of life and reduce the public health cost burden.

The Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine today announced four new Disease Team and 12 New Ideas projects that will collectively receive $4.5 million in research funding over the next sixteen months.

OIRM’s Disease Team grants will receive the bulk of the research investment. These are large projects representing areas of particular strength in Ontario and strong potential for clinical and commercial advancement. One of the four new Disease Team projects is currently in clinical trial in Ottawa, and the remaining three seek to address key issues that will enable human clinical trials to begin in the near future. The four projects are:

  • Heart regeneration with stem cell-derived heart muscle cells, led by Dr. Michael Laflamme, University Health Network, Toronto
  • Repairing white matter in the brain following disease or injury in children or teenagers, led by Dr. Freda Miller, SickKids Hospital, Toronto
  • Cellular immunotherapy for septic shock, led by Dr. Duncan Stewart, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
  • A stem cell approach to regenerate the injured spinal cord, led by Dr. Michael Fehlings, University Health Network, Toronto

The 12 New Ideas grants will each receive $50,000 over seven months to develop cutting-edge technologies or improve biological understanding. These projects, based at leading institutions in Guelph, Hamilton, London and Toronto, represent key areas of future innovation in areas such as delivery of stem cells to repair tissues, stem cell reprogramming, and biological processes affecting stem cell and adult cell maturation as well as disease development.  Six of the New Ideas grants will be co-funded by Medicine by Design, a new $114-million centre at the University of Toronto that supports transformative research and clinical translation in regenerative medicine and cell therapy.

“The quality of the applications was very strong and our review panel of international experts had a difficult task in selecting these 16 projects. It really speaks to the excellence of stem cell and regenerative medicine research happening here in Ontario, which is second to none.” said Dr. Janet Rossant, OIRM’s Executive Director. “We have seen a great deal of progress in a very short time and these projects will bring us much closer to our goal of seeing made-in-Ontario solutions to serious disease problems.”