TORONTO (June 29, 2009) – MaRS Innovation and the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital are pleased to announce that they have entered into an agreement to collaboratively initiate commercialization of an umbilical cord stem cell technology for potential treatment in cardiovascular disease, diabetes and neurological disorders.
“With the Toronto area identified as a world-leading cluster in stem cell research, we are extremely excited to have identified this technology as our first commercialization opportunity,” said Dr. Raphael (Rafi) Hofstein, President and CEO of MaRS Innovation.
The technology – invented by Mount Sinai scientists Dr. Ian Rogers and Dr. Robert Casper – offers a proprietary method to create multi-potent stem cells (MPSCs) from human umbilical cord blood. With preclinical data demonstrating efficacy of MPSCs in diabetes, peripheral vascular disease (a complication of diabetes that can lead to amputation) and neurological conditions, the technology has significant potential to address multiple unmet medical needs.
MaRS Innovation (MI), along with the inventors and Mount Sinai, will initially focus on the diabetes application for the technology, as research has demonstrated that these
cells uniquely secrete insulin in response to glucose, thereby mimicking the “normal”
physiological state. Although there are other technologies currently being developed
for diabetes treatment, very few have the potential to replace insulin injections like
the MPSC technology developed at Mount Sinai.
“The great advantages of stem cells from umbilical cord blood are their abundance
worldwide,” said Rogers. “Transferring this knowledge to the clinic could mean a
feasible alternative to insulin injections and treatment for peripheral vascular
“We are delighted to be collaborating with the MaRS Innovation team on this exciting
project,” said Terry Donaghue, Mount Sinai’s director, Technology Transfer &
Industrial Liaison, noting that safety studies are the next step toward receiving
regulatory approval for clinical studies. “With Drs. Rogers and Caspers’ research, we
knew there was a significant opportunity to potentially develop innovative therapies
for patients. With MaRS Innovation’s participation, we are optimistic we will
Dr. Jim Woodgett, director, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai
Hospital, underscored the Institute’s drive to improve patient care. “Mount Sinai is
focused on translating discoveries into technologies that will improve patient care,”
Woodgett said. “Our partnership with MaRS Innovation on developing methods
for using stem cells for diseases such as diabetes will allow us to work towards
advancing care for these critical conditions.”
With the launch of this first exciting opportunity, MaRS Innovation has embarked on
a journey to transform the Toronto-based research enterprise into a successful
Today’s announcement demonstrates that MaRS Innovation is building
its own internal infrastructure to support intellectual property and market due
diligence to identify the most promising commercial opportunities. MaRS Innovation
is dedicated to converting the outstanding science of its member institutions into
products and services, making a significant contribution to Canada’s future
economic outlook and the quality of life for Canadians and others around the world.
“We are deeply committed to creating a powerful engine for commercialization that
brings together an experienced team to identify and validate market opportunities,
develop technologies to market requirements and build the linkages that will
advance the exceptional research of all of our institutional members,” added Dr.
Hofstein. “We look forward to announcing additional technologies to add to our
pipeline over the next several weeks.”
About MaRS Innovation
MaRS Innovation provides an integrated commercialization platform that harnesses the economic potential of the exceptional discovery pipeline of 14 leading Toronto academic institutions. MaRS Innovation is a non-profit organization with an independent industry-led Board of Directors, funded through the Government of Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence and contributions of its member institutions.
About the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital
The Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital, a University of Toronto affiliated research centre established in 1985, is one of the world’s premier centres in biomedical research. Thirty-four principal investigators lead research in diabetes, cancer biology, epidemiology, stem cell research, women’s and infants’ health, neurobiology and systems biology.