Novel stem cell technology gives hope to those living with a blood disorder

June 27, 2018 (Ottawa) The Stem Cell Network (SCN) congratulates ExCellThera Inc., and SCN principal investigators on completing a novel clinical trial focused on the treatment of severe blood disorders. The early and promising results from this clinical trial provide hope for many Canadians and people around the world who are living with blood disorders such as leukemia and lymphoma.

Since 2003, SCN has provided over $9 million for developmental and pre-clinical research, as well as for clinical trials activity related to this important program. The Montreal-based research team led by SCN investigators, Drs. Sandra Cohen, Guy Sauvageau and Anne Marinier exemplify the talent and strength of Canada’s stem cell research community.

“To see this emerge from true interdisciplinary science, with support from organizations such as the Stem Cell Network is remarkable,” said Dr. Guy Sauvageau, CEO and Chief Scientific Officer of ExCellThera Inc. “It speaks so much about what collaborative efforts can achieve in this country with the proper focus and support.”

Dr. Sandra Cohen, a hematologist at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital led the 25-patient clinical trial. The patients ranged in age from 19-62 and each received a transplant using stem cells that had been safely expanded from cord blood using ExCellThera’s novel therapeutic technology, known as ECT-001. The ECT-001 technology has the potential to disrupt how health care is delivered to those fighting a blood disorder. The findings from this early phase clinical trial demonstrated that this technology is safe and is capable of decreasing the incidence of post-transplant complications.

Dr. Cohen noted, “We are optimistic about the longer-term outcomes for these patients, and it is important to test ECT-001 in more patients to confirm these promising results.”

Leukemia and lymphoma are blood cancers that affects an individual’s bone marrow and blood stem cells. Patients with leukemia often require a stem cell transplant and finding an ideal match is not always possible. Transplanted stem cells which do not fully match the patient can lead to immune rejection and a greater risk of complications, including death.

Cord blood is a better source of stem cells for transplant as there is less risk of immune rejection, but until now, their use has been limited by the inability to grow sufficient cells. The Canadian designed ECT-001 technology is addressing this critical issue.

“The Stem Cell Network is committed to supporting the translation of outstanding stem cell research from bench to bedside.  The completion of this clinical trial and its promising early stage results are extremely exciting and show the clear potential for stem cells to deliver cutting-edge cures.  Canada’s research community is world class and we look forward to supporting them for years to come,” said Dr. Michael Rudnicki, SCN’s Scientific Director.



 About the Stem Cell Network: Building Canada’s stem cell and regenerative medicine research sector has been the raison d’être of the Stem Cell Network (SCN) since its inception in 2001. In just over 17 years, SCN has forged a national community that has transformed stem cell research in Canada, brought research to the point where regenerative medicine is changing clinical practice and established an outstanding international reputation. SCN has pushed the boundaries of what was a basic research area towards translational outcomes for the clinic and marketplace. By the end of 2017, SCN had provided more than $100 million for innovative translational research. This funding has benefitted 169 world-class research groups and more than 2,500 trainees from across Canada. SCN has catalyzed 18 clinical trials and 16 regenerative medicine start-up companies. SCN investigators have leveraged upwards of $100 million in partner contributions while SCN has incubated several international and Canadian research networks and organizations. www.stemcellnetwork.ca


Lisa Willemse
Interim Communications Director
Stem Cell Network