In recent years, the list of diseases and conditions being studied in clinical trials has grown exponentially. While, 10 years ago, the announcement of a stem cell clinical trial for a condition other than cancer would have been revolutionary, this year alone, Ontario has announced 8 such studies either underway or scheduled to start soon.
This high number of trials can be attributed to a number of factors. First, Ontario has invested significantly in stem cell and regenerative medicine research. Second, Ontario benefits from a supportive regulatory environment and has a world-class clinical infrastructure. Finally, there is a considerable coordinated focus on clinical and commercial translation on the part of government, research and health organizations, as well as business and innovation enterprises. All in all, Ontario is a very attractive place to conduct stem cell clinical trials.
Dr. Michael Fehlings, a clinician-researcher at the University Health Network in Toronto notes, “It’s a significant reflection on Ontario’s vision for the future that the province recognizes the potential of regenerative medicine and is investing in the creation of a biotech environment that supports clinical translation and commercialization of research”. Fehlings is the lead researcher in an ongoing clinical trial sponsored by Stem Cells Inc. The clinical trial is testing the safety of neutral stem cell used to regenerate thoracic and cervical spinal cord injuries.
Part of the major excitement surrounding this clinical trial is the second phase of the trial focusing on cervical spine injuries, which account for 70% of all spinal cord injuries in Canada. Injuries like these often result in quadriplegia, with significant reduction in quality of life for those afflicted. Headway in treatment for these conditions would radically change the quality of life for patients living with these injuries.
The trial is one of several with connections to the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which was formed in 2014 to coordinate Ontario’s research, clinical and commercial efforts in making Ontario a global leader in the development of stem cell-based products and therapies.
OIRM has focused primarily on advancing stem cell and regenerative medicine therapies for a range of debilitating diseases for which current treatments are limited. These include autoimmune disorders, and diseases or injuries that affect musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, vision, neurological and blood systems.
It may well mean that for people suffering with ailments such as heart disease, Crohn’s, Multiple Sclerosis — and significantly for those with cervical spinal cord injuries — a treatment may be on the horizon.
Source: Follow the link for more information about these trials and the original story content.