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Headshot - Stacey Johnson

Stacey Johnson

Director Communications and Marketing, CCRM

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted significant gaps in Canada’s biomanufacturing strategy, and the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) wants to ensure that Canada isn’t left behind a second time. 

With limited capacity to manufacture vaccines in Canadian facilities, the federal government now has to rely on vaccines being delivered to Canada when its suppliers are ready to do so. This has put Canada behind many other countries in getting shots in arms. It’s an unfortunate scenario that’s the result of decisions made decades ago.

We can’t change the past, but we can prepare for the future. We need to transition our thinking on biomanufacturing from a defensive position to one of offence.

Regenerative medicine, including cell and gene therapy, harnesses the power of stem cells, biomaterials, molecules, and genetic modifications to repair, regenerate, or replace diseased cells, tissues, and organs.

This approach is disrupting the traditional biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries with the promise of revolutionary new cures for devastating and costly conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

At this time, there are over 1,220 clinical trials ongoing worldwide. According to the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine1, there are 152 Phase III clinical trials, and regulatory decisions are expected on multiple products in the coming months.

What does this mean for patients seeking treatments and cures?

“There’s an enormous global demand for biomanufacturing,” says Michael May, President and CEO, CCRM. “Canada can be a leader in manufacturing cell and gene therapies for patients worldwide, but especially here at home. We want Canadian citizens first in line to receive therapies as they become approved by Health Canada.”

CCRM is a leader in developing and commercializing regenerative medicine-based technologies, and cell and gene therapies. Built in partnership with the University Health Network, it operates the Centre for Cell and Vector Production, the largest, at 20,000 square feet, good manufacturing practices (GMP) facility in Toronto capable of producing the materials for Phase I and II clinical trials. And it has plans to build a 120,000 square foot commercial-scale GMP facility at the McMaster Innovation Park in Hamilton.

Operator in clean room at CCRM’s Centre for Cell and Vector Production in Toronto
Operator in clean room at CCRM’s Centre for Cell and Vector Production in Toronto

The strategy is to have biomanufacturing in place so Canada doesn’t have the same problem when cell and gene therapies become standard treatments.

1. Download the 2021 State of the Industry briefing

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