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Stem cell research the focus of Toronto, Kyoto partnership


Tokyo, Japan – Scientific teams at the University of Toronto and Kyoto University are joining forces in the race to get cutting-edge therapies to the clinic.

A research-sharing agreement signed in Tokyo bonds Toronto’s stem cell researchers at to Kyoto University’s Shinya Yamanaka, the famed Japanese innovator who took the world by storm in 2007 by converting normal adult cells into embryonic-like stem cells.

“Shinya Yamanaka and his team have developed some of the world’s most important technology in stem cell research, and the team at U of T is among the best at differentiating cells to produce innovative therapies,” said Bill Stanford, associate director at U of T’s Institute for Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) and co-scientific director of the Ontario iPS Cell Facility. “Together, we’ll share patient samples, technologies and protocols to get basic science to the clinic much faster.”

He added the collaboration will greatly speed up development of drug therapies to treat conditions like autism and cystic fibrosis. In the not-so-distant future, cell replacement therapy will be a reality, too, he says.

U of T’s partnership with Kyoto University will also play a big role in ensuring Toronto and Ontario remain on the cutting edge of stem cell research.

“We are already known as one of the best places in the world for stem cell research because of our genetic diversity, unique medical system and concentration of top-notch scientists,” he said. “The partnership between U of T and Kyoto University will only solidify our reputation as a world leader in this field and it will certainly bolster home-grown opportunities for commercialization.”