Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada
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NETWORK LEGACY: CellCAN Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapy Network - CellCAN

Funded 2014-21

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CellCAN Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapy Network

NCE contributions
$2.8 million

Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, Montréal, Quebec

Enabling pan-Canadian cell and gene therapy manufacturing

The field of regenerative medicine and cell and gene therapy is rapidly evolving thanks to the excellence in fundamental research and new front-line technologies. Collaboration and information sharing between researchers, regulators, funding agencies and industry is essential and requires a streamlined approach to conducting cell and gene therapy clinical trials. This requires a central hub of information for better implementation and an overall improvement to patient care. Specifically, the cell and gene therapy manufacturing sector in Canada needs to operate under a common seal of quality to increase safety and rapidly and effectively migrate innovative treatment concepts (for diseases such as diabetes, cancer, macular degeneration, etc.) into standard clinical practice.

CellCAN improved the quality, safety and feasibility of cell and gene therapies in Canada through optimal manufacturing practices. CellCAN created a common seal of quality for Canadian cell and gene therapy manufacturing facilities, influencing regulatory standards to establish adequate regulatory oversight, creating business and networking opportunities, and empowering information multipliers in helping Canadians make informed and safe decisions for their health.

Among the results

  • CellCAN was able to leverage its $400K-a-year grant into over $11.2M in projects by partnering with the right organizations, positioning Canada as a key player in cell & gene therapy, and fostering collaboration between its Network Affiliates.
  • Secure knowledge sharing platform, CellCAN’s Extranet provided private Workspaces and discussion forums for protocol and document exchange between colleagues of all Canadian Cell Manufacturing Facilities and other stakeholders. This optimized the sharing and flow of information, especially on multicenter clinical trials at regional, national and international levels.
  • CellCAN worked with regularity agencies to advance regulatory standards, which already lead to modified policies and guidelines to reduce redundancies and favour streamlined clinical trial applications. CellCAN co-launched a Cell Therapy Stakeholder Group (CTSG) to engage Health Canada (HC) in bi-annual face-to-face meetings. The CTSG recommendations led to improved regulatory oversight, and updated HC on shifts and trends in the healthcare landscape impacting patients, providers, sponsors and regulators.
  • CellCAN offered unique networking and partnership opportunities through multidisciplinary meetings that allowed for strategic discussions surrounding the development of cell and gene therapy in Canada. In 2017, CellCAN hosted its first pan-Canadian Strategic Forum that gathered 160 experts in clinical research, industry, regulatory agencies, government officials, foundations, funding agencies and commercialization organizations for a two-day meeting. CellCAN also hosted the first Canadian Pavilion, reuniting key members of the Canadian cell and gene therapy ecosystem in London, UK, at ISCT’s 2017 annual meeting.
  • Hundreds of researchers, HQPs (highly qualified personnel), industry partners and other networks received training through CellCAN’s workshops, specifically on cell manufacturing best practices.