About the Disruptive Technology Solutions for Cell and Gene Therapy Challenge program

Hosted via the NRC's Human Health Therapeutics Research Centre, the Disruptive Technology Solutions for Cell and Gene Therapy Challenge program will design and develop disruptive technology solutions for precision-engineered cell and gene therapies for the treatment and potential cure of chronic diseases and rare genetic disorders affecting Canadians.

In doing so, the NRC will coordinate a national effort to increase the affordability and accessibility of these ground-breaking technologies—in collaboration with academic facilities, research centres and networks, clinicians, hospital centres and others—to enable a national ecosystem for health innovation in the area of cell and gene therapies.

Program overview

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NRC technology toolbox

  • Antibody platforms
  • Nanomaterials
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells
  • Viral vector design
  • Packaging cell lines

Canadian ecosystem technology toolbox

  • Clinical targets and disease models
  • Clinical datasets
  • Chimeric antigen receptor designs
  • Regenerative medicine cell biology
  • Nanomaterials
  • Gene editing strategies

NRC enabling expertise

  • Device fabrication
  • Automation
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Viral vector scale up manufacturing
  • Analytics, metrology and standards

Canadian ecosystem enabling expertise

  • Mammalian genome foundry
  • Good manufacturing practice device fabrication
  • Translational models
  • Current good manufacturing practice facilities
  • Clinical trial expertise

to deliver

Challenge Program

  • Pipeline of disruptive made-in-Canada therapies (universal donor cell, virus-free gene editing)
  • Technologies that reduce cost and complexity of manufacturing
  • Expanded and new good manufacturing practice and clinical capacity
  • Collaboration for innovative commercialization, health policy, and delivery models

Cross-sectoral collaborative approach to achieve program success

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  • AI 4 Design: accelerating discovery
  • Collaboration to inform policy
  • Collaboration for translation
  • NRC foundational investments: expanding capacity

interact with

  • biodevices for gene and cell therapy automation
  • capacity building
  • gene therapy vectors
  • precision editing
  • precision targeting

to deliver

  • safe, affordable and accessible cell and gene therapies

Areas of focus

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Key elements for collaboration include:

  • biodevices
  • capacity building
  • precision editing
  • precision targeting
  • viral vectors
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  • Research and discovery
    • Foundational investments
      • Synthetic biology genome foundry, University of Concordia
      • 3D microfluidic devices, U of T – CRAFT
  • Biomanufacturing
    • Canadian current good manufacturing practice
      • Cell product manufacturing
      • Viral vector manufacturing
  • Clinical trials
    • Hospitals, research centres and health services
  • Commercialization
    • Centres of excellence for commercialization and research
    • Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises and multi-national enterprises

Master projects

By the end of its 7‑year mandate, the program aims to deliver significant outcomes across 6 master project program areas.

Foundational investments

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Translational technologies (high technology readiness level)

  • Biomanufacturing platforms
  • Capacity-enabling projects

Disruptive technologies (low technology readiness level)

  • SynBio foundry
  • Living microsystems foundry
  • Translational research platforms
  • Biodevices for automation
  • Precision editing
  • Precision targeting
  • Viral vectors for gene therapy

To deliver

  • safe, affordable and accessible cell and gene therapies

The NRC has established key collaborations with a number of partners to provide foundational investments in technologies that will be essential for the Disruptive Technology Solutions for Cell and Gene Therapy Challenge program's capacity to deliver on its aims. These include:

  • University of Toronto – Centre for Research and Applications in Fluidic Technologies (CRAFT)
    Creation of device-based in vitro models and analytical technologies to help understand cell programming and differentiation, and assess their efficacy.
  • Concordia University – Synthetic biology genome foundry
    Essential infrastructure for the development of high-throughput and high-precision gene editing of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) for the rapid evaluation of optimal cell characteristics for a universal donor iPSC platform.