Minister Clement, Governor Schwarzenegger Join Forces to Fight Cancer Through Cancer Stem Cell Research



    SAN DIEGO, CA, June 18 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada and California, two world
leaders in the area of cancer stem cell research, will join forces to gain a
better understanding of the role cancer stem cells play in the development of
the disease.
    "This is an historic agreement. Now we are working together across
borders, bringing together the best minds from both countries with the goal of
learning how to prevent and treat cancer for the benefit of all of our
citizens," said Tony Clement, Minister of Health. "I am proud to announce
Canada will contribute more than $100 million to the Cancer Stem Cell
Consortium (CSCC), which will work with the California Institute for
Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) in this exciting new partnership."
    "California is committed to being a leader in stem cell research, but no
one state or nation should do this alone," stated Governor Schwarzenegger.
"Entering into collaborations such as this, which bring together leading
medical research capabilities, have great potential in improving the lives of
not only Californians, but people around the world."
    The three-year agreement lays the foundation for CIRM and CSCC to explore
collaborative approaches to evaluate, fund and monitor cancer stem cell
research projects.
    The announcement was made at the BIO 2008 International Convention in San
Diego, California by Canadian Health Minister Tony Clement, Dr. Alan Trounson,
President of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), Robert
N. Klein, Chairman of the Governing Board of CIRM and Dr. Martin Godbout, CEO
of Genome Canada and Chairman of the Board of the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium.
    The first potential area for collaboration under consideration is the
upcoming CIRM Disease Team grants. These grants will provide an opportunity
for researchers in California and Canada to collaborate, broadening the
potential pool of expertise that can be applied toward research in a specific
area.
    The Disease Team Awards will support multi-disciplinary teams of
scientists in pursuit of therapies for specific diseases. The goal is to fund
the work of disease teams that would result in therapy or diagnostics for a
particular disease or serious injury. Request for Applications (RFA) for these
grants will be issued by CIRM in October with grants announced in June 2009.
Successful proposals will likely include a description of a path to an
Investigational New Drug filing at the end of the four-to-five year grant.
    "Canadian researchers have been at the forefront on stem cell research
and Drs. James Till and Ernest McCullough received the Lasker Prize for work,
which pioneered the field. By working together across borders and bringing
together the top scientists from both countries to tackle cancer stem cell
research, I believe we will be able to shorten the time to bring great
improvements to the lives of those affected by cancer," said the Honourable
Tony Clement, Minister of Health for Canada.
    "One of CIRM's primary goals is to accelerate the field of stem cell
research as a whole. In some instances we can do this more effectively through
collaborations that involve the best scientific endeavors, regardless of
geography" said Dr. Alan Trounson, President of CIRM. "Through this
relationship, CIRM money will continue to be earmarked only for research that
takes place within California, but our funding can be significantly leveraged
to accelerate the clinical benefits for patients. Coordinating our joint
efforts in cancer stem cell research through collaborative programs with our
colleagues in Canada will enhance the opportunities to contain and to prevent
recurrence of certain cancers."
    "We are excited about the opportunities presented by this international
collaboration with our Canadian colleagues," stated Robert N. Klein, Chairman
of the Governing Board of CIRM, the state stem cell agency." Coordinating
scientific efforts should shorten the time that it takes to drive discoveries
into the clinic and to patients. We hope to enter into several agreements with
other nations to significantly expand this vital stem cell research and extend
our ability to accelerate the field."
    "Cancer stem cells have recently been a focus of much research as a
possible cause of cancer recurrence and many of the most important discoveries
linking cancer stem cells to cancer have been made by Canadian and Californian
researchers. An international collaboration involving Canada and California,
with a focus on cancer stem cells, can be expected to raise research in this
field to a much higher level." said Dr. Jim Till, the President of the CSCC.
"International coordination and collaboration should ensure that Canadian
funds will be used to support Canadian research of the very highest quality."
    The Canadian partners in CSCC (Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canadian
Institutes of Health Research, Stem Cell Network, Ontario Institute for Cancer
Research and Genome Canada) are expected to make an initial investment of more
than $100 million Canadian dollars in the collaboration, with Genome Canada,
the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Ontario Government through
the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, having already confirmed
commitments of up to $30 million each for cancer stem cell research. CIRM will
support the collaboration through its existing programs.
    No funds awarded through this collaboration will be used for research
involving human reproductive cloning or any other matter that is prohibited by
California law or CIRM regulations for CIRM grantees or Canadian law or CSCC's
Members' regulations for CSCC grantees.

    
                                 BACKGROUNDER
    

    About CIRM CIRM was established in 2005 with the passage of Proposition
71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act. The statewide ballot
measure, which provided $3 billion in funding for stem cell research at
California universities and research institutions, was overwhelmingly approved
by voters, and called for the establishment of an entity to make grants and
provide loans for stem cell research, research facilities, and other vital
research opportunities. To date, the CIRM governing board has approved 168
research and facility grants totaling more than $530 million, making CIRM the
largest source of funding for human pluripotent, progenitor and cancer stem
cell research in the world. For more information, please visit
www.cirm.ca.gov.

    About the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium The Cancer Stem Cell Consortium is
a not-for-corporation that was incorporated in 2007 as a result of a project
initiated by a stem cell and regenerative medicine working group of the
Canada-California Strategic Innovation Partnership, a unique collaboration
between California and Canada stakeholders from universities, private sector
and government. CSCC's objectives are to coordinate an international strategy
for cancer stem cell research and translational activities to allow the
biomedical community to move quickly and effectively from discoveries to
application in the clinic; establish partnerships among organizations from
Canada, California and other jurisdictions to accelerate and synergize
research and translation opportunities related to cancer stem cells; and
secure investments from governments, private foundations and the private
sector for sustained and stable research funding. Consortium members currently
include: Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Genome Canada, Canadian
Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
(OICR) and the Stem Cell Network.

    The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of
Canada's agency for health research. CIHR's mission is to create new
scientific knowledge and to catalyze its translation into improved health,
more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian
health care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and
support to more than 11,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

    The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is an independent corporation
created by the Government of Canada to fund research infrastructure. The CFI's
mandate is to strengthen the capacity of Canadian universities, colleges,
research hospitals, and non-profit research institutions to carry out
world-class research and technology development that benefits Canadians. Since
its creation in 1997, the CFI has committed $3.8 billion in support of 5,714
projects at 128 research institutions in 64 municipalities across Canada.

    Genome Canada is a private, not-for-profit corporation, and the primary
funding and information resource relating to genomics and proteomics research
in Canada. Its principal goal is to position Canada among the world leaders in
genomics and proteomics research. Its mandate is to develop and implement a
national strategy in genomics and proteomics research for the benefit of all
Canadians in key selected areas such as agriculture, environment, fisheries,
forestry, animal and human health, and new technology. For this purpose, it
has received $840 million in funding from the Canadian government and
co-funding from other partners over seven years, allowing it to invest a total
of $1.6 billion in 131 innovative research projects and technology platforms.

    The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research is a centre of excellence,
moving Ontario to the forefront of discovery and innovation. It is dedicated
to research in prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment and control
of cancer. OICR is a not-for-profit corporation funded by the Government of
Ontario through the Ministry of Research and Innovation.

    The Stem Cell Network brings together more than 70 of Canada's leading
scientists, clinicians, engineers and ethicists, to catalyze the translation
of stem cell research into clinical applications, commercial products, and
public policy. It is one of 18 Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE),
Canada's flagship science and technology program. The NCE program is
administered and funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research
Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences
and Humanities Research Council in partnership with Industry Canada.




For further information:

For further information: California CIRM: Ellen Rose, (650) 387-8746
(mobile); Canada: Canadian Minister of Health Office: Laryssa Waler, (613)
954-1592; Canadian Consulate: Marc Lepage, (415) 834-3184 x 3200, (415)
264-1570(mobile); David Coulombe, Media Specialist, The Canadian Institutes of
Health Research, (613) 941-4563, Cell: (613) 808-7526


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