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CFI awards $5M in infrastructure funding to launch CCTG-led national research platform

CFI awards $5M in infrastructure funding to launch CCTG-led national research platform

ExCELLirate Canada, a national research platform for next generation cancer cell therapies, is the recipient of $5,187,685 in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). The funding, which comes from the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Industry, is part of a larger research infrastructure initiative that will support 102 projects across the country.  

ExCELLirate Canada is led by project co-lead, Annette Hay and The Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) at Queen’s University. With this new funding, ExCELLirate Canada will be able to effectively bring together partners and renowned leaders committed to accelerating the evaluation and adoption of cell therapies for cancer within Canada by coordinating their activities and resources to enable international caliber research and development of cell therapies for cancer. ExCELLirate will focus on new cell-based therapies that use modified immune cells to target cancer. This modification is done through adoptive cell transfer, which involves taking a patient’s immune cells from their blood and modifying them in a lab so they can target cancer cells more effectively.  

“Cell therapies are demonstrating meaningful and lifesaving remissions for some people in whom chemotherapy and stem cell transplants have not worked. However, the current costs and access to these treatments are an issue,” says Dr. Hay, project co-lead and Senior Investigator at the CCTG. “The ExCELLirate Canada platform proposes to revolutionize the manufacturing of cell therapies and address the challenges that prevent this lifesaving therapy from being used to its full potential.” 

Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is one example of cell therapy that has successfully treated children and adult patients with forms of leukemia and lymphoma and there is growing evidence that engineered immune cells have the potential to be broadly applicable across more types of cancer. Many patients do not survive the month required to produce CAR T- cells using the current system. Through ExCELLirate Canada, Canadians will have rapid access to innovative cell therapies. 

ExCELLirate Canada will also develop and optimize distributed point-of-care manufacturing that will improve efficiency, quality, and capacity to test innovative “made in Canada” cell therapies that will lead to new products and better outcomes for Canadians.

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