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Stem Cells

​​​​​The McEwen Stem Cell Institute was established in December 2018 with a mission to develop new stem cell-based therapies for chronic diseases with unmet clinical needs. Formerly the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, the Institute has been a recognized leader in stem cell research and regenerative medicine since 2007 and is home to five internationally recognized scientists with expertise in stem cell and human developmental biology. Our team of scientists is currently focused on developing therapies in four major disease areas — heart disease, liver disease, diabetes and blood cell diseases.

Made possible through the generosity of Rob and Cheryl McEwen, the McEwen Stem Cell Institute brings together scientists, clinicians, investors and philanthropists to deliver on our translational goals. As part of the University Health Network, we collaborate with research institutions around the globe and have forged groundbreaking partnerships to move theory to therapy.

Supported by some of the best and brightest pioneers in the field of regenerative medicine, we are focused on restoring heart function, making electronic pacemakers obsolete, healing liver disease, eliminating insulin injections, and beating blood diseases. With what was once impossible now within our grasp, we are seizing the moment to accelerate our ability to create, collaborate and cure.

Our Vision
Curing diseases with new stem cell-based therapies.
Our Mission
Leverage our unique capabilities in cell therapy innovation, clinical partnerships and commercialization to develop therapies of the future.

We want to …


 Our Milestones and Achievements

  1. May 2008


    First in the world to develop heart progenitor cells, giving hope for testing drugs and treating heart failure patients.
    (Dr. Gordon Keller)

  2. January 2011


    Generate polyhormonal cells that are insulin producing.
    (Dr. Gordon Keller)

  3. August 2012


    Identify new approaches to mature liver cells to stage of efficient drug metabolization.
    (Dr. Gordon Keller)



    November 2012


    Isolate pure population of cardiomyocytes and identify epicardium and endocardium.
    (Dr. Gordon Keller)

  4. February 2015


    Discover a pre-leukemic stem cell that may be the first step in initiating disease and also the culprit that evades therapy and triggers relapse in patients with acute myeloid leukemia(AML).
    (Dr. John Dick)



    May 2015


    Develop human cartilage tissue from human stem cells.
    (Dr. Gordon Keller)



    August 2015


    Demonstrate a new method to produce cholangiocytes (bile duct cells) from human pluripotent stem cells by providing stem cells with certain activators at specific times during the production process.
    (Dr. Gordon Keller and Dr. Shinichiro Ogawa)

  5. December 12, 2016


    McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine receives backing from BlueRock Therapeutics. Work of UHN scientists among first projects for new stem-cell research company to commercialize an approach to regenerate heart muscle in patients who have had a heart attack or who suffer from chronic heart failure.



    December 14, 2016


    Develop the first functional pacemaker cells from human stem cells, paving the way for alternate, biological pacemaker therapy.
    (Dr. Gordon Keller and Dr. Stephanie Protze)



    Protze, S. I., Liu, J., Nussinovitch, U., Ohana, L., Backx, P. H., Gepstein, L., & Keller, G. M. (2017). Sinoatrial node cardiomyocytes derived from human pluripotent cells function as a biological pacemaker. Nature biotechnology, 35(1), 56–68. https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt.3745

  6. August 24, 2017


    Develop a new method to identify and purify cells that develop into insulin-producing cells from human stem cells, creating opportunities for new therapies and safer transplants in patients with type 1 diabetes.
    (Dr. Maria Cristina Nostro)


    Cogger, K. F., Sinha, A., Sarangi, F., McGaugh, E. C., Saunders, D., Dorrell, C., Mejia-Guerrero, S., Aghazadeh, Y., Rourke, J. L., Screaton, R. A., Grompe, M., Streeter, P. R., Powers, A. C., Brissova, M., Kislinger, T., & Nostro, M. C. (2017). Glycoprotein 2 is a specific cell surface marker of human pancreatic progenitors. Nature communications, 8(1), 331. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-00561-0

  7. December 6, 2018


    McEwen Stem Cell Institute is established.

  8. August 8, 2019


    Bayer announces USD $1 billion acquisition of BlueRock Therapeutics, a company scientifically co-founded by Drs. Gordon Keller and Michael Laflamme.



    November 6, 2019


    Dr. Gordon Keller receives top award—2019 Ogawa-Yamanaka Stem Cell Prize—for his work in differentiating stem cells into multiple cell types.

  9. July 7, 2020


    Pioneer the generation of functional liver blood vessel cells from stem cells, enabling the development of new therapies for disorders such as hemophilia A.
    (Dr. Gordon Keller)



    September 25, 2020


    Develop first optical map of electric activity from engrafted stem cell-derived heart cells provides key insights on electric function.
    (Dr. Michael Laflamme)



    October 11, 2020


    Dr. Cristina Nostro receives Business Excellence Award for Innovation and Science from the Italian Chamber of Commerce Canada.



    October 27, 2020


    Identify key signalling molecule responsible for generating endocardial cells, which line the inside of the heart, paving the way for new therapies for valve diseases.
    (Dr. Gordon Keller)



    November 25, 2020


    Dr. Gordon Keller received Bloom Burton award for his work as the scientific co-founder of BlueRock Therapeutics.



    November 27, 2020


    Dr. Cristina Nostro receives 1 of 2 national CIHR-JDRF grants totalling $3M to develop stem cell-based therapies for Type 1 Diabetes. She leads an expert team of scientists across Canada with expertise in stem cell biology, vascular biology, islet transplantation and beta cell biology.



    December 16, 2020


    Drs. Gordon Keller and Michael Laflamme receive UHN Local Impact Award for Commercialization in recognition of their pioneering work that led to the creation of BlueRock Therapeutics.

  10. May 26, 2021


    Dr. Gordon Keller develops a scalable protocol to develop heart muscle from human pluripotent stem cells. These cells have adult-like features, and can be used for disease modelling and treatment.



    June 2, 2021


    Dr. Gordon Keller named co-recipient of 2021 Scientific Grand Prize from the Lefoulon Delalande Foundation at the Institute de France.



    June 15, 2021


    Dr. Michael Laflamme appointed Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine.



    September 3, 2021


    Dr. Cristina Nostro and Dr. Sara Vasconcelos show that microvessels can increase the survival and functionality of transplanted pancreatic cells.



    November 15, 2021


    Dr. Shinichiro Ogawa uses pluripotent stem cells to generate cholangiocytes, which can be used to restore bile function in patients with biliary disease.



    December 20, 2021


    Dr. Gordon Keller identifies pluripotent stem cell-derived blood cell precursor that gives rise to multiple blood lineages.

  11. January 28, 2022


    Dr. Michael Laflamme develops new technique to generate mature heart cells that confer improved outcomes in laboratory models of heart disease.



    March 31, 2022


    Dr. Cristina Nostro develops new method to improve safety of cell therapy for Type 1 Diabetes to mark 100 years since insulin was first used in clinic.



    April 5, 2022


    Dr. Gordon Keller demonstrates reversal of hemophilia A with proof-of-concept cell therapy in laboratory model.



    September 1, 2022


    Dr. Gordon Keller develops a comprehensive map of human cardiovascular development, enabling the development of chamber-specific cell-based therapies.

  12. March 1, 2023


    Dr. Michael Laflamme receives $23.6 million in Government of Canada funding as part of the New Frontiers in Research Fund – Transformation stream. Dr. Laflamme is 1 of 6 national recipients of this prestigious award, and will lead a team of researchers to develop state-of-the-art cell and regenerative therapies for heart disease.


Contact

Email:mceweninstitute@uhn.ca

McEwen Stem Cell Institute
MaRS Centre, Princess Margaret Cancer Research Tower
101 College St., Toronto, ON, M5G 1L7


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