CellCAN Strategic Forum: Innovation in Cell and Gene Therapies to the Service of Canadians

The cell and gene therapy revolution is clearly under way in Canada, and it is time to double down our efforts to bring the medical treatments of the future to the Canadian patients. This is one of the major conclusions of the second CellCAN pan-Canadian Strategic Forum, Cell & Gene Therapy Revolution: Time to Gown Up! that just ended in Toronto. Organized in partnership with the Center for Commercialisation of Cancer Immunotherapy (C3i) and the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM), the event put some light on the many challenges ahead, but also much hope in how Canada can collaborate to overcome them, accelerate and facilitate the access of cell and gene therapies.

For three days, 180 researchers, clinicians and cell and gene manufacturers not only discovered the latest innovation in regenerative medicine, but also discussed and debated on different ways to develop better treatments that will significantly improve the health of Canadians.

“The second edition of our forum really set the stage to facilitate and accelerate access to cell and gene therapies for Canadian patients. We know these innovative therapies are within our reach with the first commercial therapies that have received approval in Canada. There were tremendous advances since our last forum two years ago, and we are still making progress every year to cure more and more diseases and develop safer and more efficient treatments. We cannot slow down! We must intensify our efforts because it is only a matter of time before Canadians can really benefit from the most innovative therapies available,” said Dr. Denis-Claude Roy, CEO of CellCAN.

Participants had the chance to discover the most recent innovations that will improve the safety of cellular therapies. They explored many ways to develop more efficient therapies, according to the context of various diseases and depending on the profile of the patients, by discussing the advantages of choosing different types of cell donors. The future of clinical trials was also on the menu, since they are becoming more complex and requiring more transparency, but also becoming a journey that continues after approval to gather more data on the real-life results.

The event was also an opportunity to better understand the actual legal framework, and how to collaborate with the regulatory authorities to facilitate the approval process. Discussions helped understand some of the reflexions in the ongoing regulatory reform. Finally, participants had very constructive debates about how we can find innovative solutions to finance and reimburse innovative cell and gene therapies to the benefit of more patients, and learned on the various strategies and innovations that can help optimize the manufacturing of therapies in the future.

CellCAN will hold its third pan-Canadian Strategic Forum in 2021. A full report from the second edition will be made available in the fall of 2019.