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.
"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
"We'll be able to design cells, tissues and organs from the ground
up," Zandstra said, noting that regenerative medicine is at an
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.