Urgent Appeal to The Government of Ontario: Now is the Time to Support Regenerative Medicine
As The Government of Ontario prepares its 2022 Spring Budget, OIRM is raising awareness of the massive losses expected if critically important sector funding is not continued.
At OIRM, we understand the unprecedented financial challenges facing Ontario, particularly in the healthcare sector, and this makes it even more vital that we take full advantage of the vast potential of Ontario’s newly established Regenerative Medicine ecosystem to address Finance Minister Bethlenfalvy’s key priorities:
- Protecting people’s health
- Protecting our economy
Ontario’s innovative stem cell scientists are already saving lives, including state-of-the-art treatments for COVID recovery, as Sharon Charlebois can attest. After being admitted into ICU with COVID-19 at The Ottawa Hospital, Sharon attributes her survival to the stem cell treatment she received. Read Sharon’s fully story here.
Stem cell science originated in Toronto 50 years ago with the ground-breaking discovery by Doctors James Till and Ernest McCulloch; a remarkable contribution to our provincial, and national, legacy.
At a time when the unprecedented commercial value of stem cell technologies are just beginning to be realized, Ontario’s stem cell innovators are now at a crossroads. Without ongoing funding, Ontario stands to lose it competitive advantage and the opportunity to benefit from the burgeoning Regenerative Medicine commercial sector.
Catalyzed by an initial $25M investment from the provincial government in 2015, OIRM has since generated $174.5M (6.9-fold ROI) in leveraged funding and invested in cutting-edge technologies that generated an additional $332M (13-fold ROI) in Series A investment. OIRM support was a key factor in the path leading to the creation of BlueRock Therapeutics, one of the greatest Canadian biotech success stories, which was acquired by Bayer in 2019 for $1B (40-fold ROI) and is now a leading engineered cell therapy company.
“BlueRock invested in the Ontario ecosystem because of work that OIRM had supported from Dr. Michael Laflamme (UHN). It was really the strength of the science under OIRM’s guidance, in my view, that led to our decision to launch and build BlueRock Therapeutics in the Toronto-area. OIRM’s support was critical to getting a small biotech launched. I would like to see that funding envelope increased to give the Institute the ability to bring these programs to a later phase of value creation—something that would have the added benefit of creating more confidence in potential investors.”- Dr. Bob Deans, Chief Technical Officer, BlueRock Therapeutics 2017-2020
It is reasonable to expect more opportunities like BlueRock to develop if Ontario continues to nurture stem cell research and innovation. Ontario is staring at a $1B economic opportunity by funding Regenerative Medicine advancements. But in 2020, while the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine was refunded at $5.5B USD, here at home the funding for OIRM was removed as part of a cost-cutting exercise, and unfortunately before a glowing report from a blue-ribbon international review panel that recommended renewed funding for OIRM.
OIRM is imploring government to reconsider its position and continue funding stem cell advancements in Ontario. An investment of $25M over 5 years will yield massive returns for Ontario.
At no point in history have public health and economic recovery been simultaneously prioritized by the provincial government as urgently as right now. Medical treatments are evolving rapidly, and if made-in-Ontario stem cell research remains a priority for The Government of Ontario, there is good reason to feel hopeful about the future.
OIRM is a passionate champion for healthcare providers and their patients as we build a healthier future for Ontario, Canada, and the world.