A federal grant of $114-million has been awarded to the University of Toronto, UK for a new regenerative medicine program aimed at developing innovative cell-based treatments for major diseases as cancer, diabetes and blindness.
Peter Zandstra, a professor in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, said the goal of the university's Medicine by Design program is to accelerate the impact of regenerative medicine on patient care and to translate discoveries in the field into economic benefit.
Advertisement"But in order to do that we really need to add new technologies and new capabilities to the regenerative medicine tool box. What the program allows us to do is to bring engineers, scientists and clinicians together, but also to start to build capacities in computational biology ... and synthetic biology to design new cell types, new devices and new tissues that can be used therapeutically," said Zandstra.
Medicine by Design will involve more than 50 researchers and clinicians from the university and affiliated health-care institutions -- Sick Kids Hospital, the University Health Network, Peking University, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, the UK Regenerative Medicine Program and Sweden's Karolinska Institute Mount Sinai Hospital.
The program, which has partnered with the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine, also plans to establish several start-up companies to supply leading-edge technologies in the field to a growing international market.
"We'll be able to design cells, tissues and organs from the ground up," Zandstra said, noting that regenerative medicine is at an "inflection point."
Stem cells and engineered cells are already being used in therapies for some patients and for testing new drugs in the lab -- but harnessing their full potential to treat cancer, heart disease, arthritis and a host of other conditions is considered the holy grail of regenerative medicine.
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