Getting involved - Disruptive Technology Solutions for Cell and Gene Therapy Challenge program

The Disruptive Technology Solutions for Cell and Gene Therapy Challenge program is seeking collaborators with research interests, expertise, specialized capacity or technologies who have the potential to accelerate and transform innovation in cell and gene therapy approaches. We invite you to tell us about your area of expertise and your interest in collaborating with the program. Current collaborative opportunities are open in the following master project areas:

Disruptive technology development projects

The Disruptive Technology Solutions for Cell and Gene Therapy Challenge program currently includes 6 projects representing interconnected areas of research, each of which is seeking complementary expertise and technologies. The goals of these master projects are:

Master Project 1: Developing adeno‑associated virus (AAV)‑based gene therapies for various monogenetic diseases that would become ready to benefit from expanded GMP AAV capacity in Canada and clinical trials in the medium‑term (5 years).

Master Project 2: Developing affordable and accessible best‑in‑class CAR‑T products for the treatment of hematologic malignancies. As part of this project, we are interested in collaborating with academic and clinical CAR researchers to conduct multi‑parametric analysis of the CAR‑T/CAR‑NK constructs through their bio manufacture, including but not limited to, genomic, metabolic, metabolomics, phenotypic and functional characterizations. The intention of this is to identify surrogate CAR biomarkers of CAR "fitness" that may be applied to optimize bioprocess engineering strategies.

Master Project 3: Developing microfluidic processes and biodevices for therapeutic cell product engineering and manufacturing, including automated workflows and integrated analytic approaches.

Master Project 4: Developing high‑throughput automation and precision editing platform to accelerate engineering safe allogeneic‑based cell therapies.

Master Project 5: Developing novel antibody‑based targeting strategies for CAR‑T products directed to solid tumours, and developing antibody‑targeted in vivo gene editing strategies. The main objective of this master project is to deploy next‑generation cell and nanoparticle‑gene therapeutics using novel antibody reagents against selective solid tumour, tumour microenvironment or tumour glycan antigens.

  • For the development of solid tumour targeted CAR‑T, we are seeking collaborations in pre‑clinical development of animal models for the evaluation of solid tumour targeting CAR‑T therapeutics and development of novel CAR‑T switches for enhanced control and safety
  • For the development of nano‑gene delivery systems, we are seeking collaborations in packaging CRISPR‑Cas9 gene editing machinery in lipid‑based nanoparticles (i.e. lipid nanoparticles or exosomes) and in the in vivo evaluation of targeted gene editing using animal models of monogenetic disease.

Master Project 6: This project has 3 key objectives:

  1. Developing an efficient system for genome editing by homology directed repair in quiescent cells that could be used in the context of gene therapy with viral vectors such as adeno‑associated virus (AAV) 
  2. With surface chemistry knowledge, developing a tangential flow filtration membrane (hollow fibre or cassette‑based) containing specific ligand or charge on the lumen side to adsorb or bind a virus, produced by mammalian cell culture, used for gene therapy application and allowed to elute in a smaller volume
  3. Isolating or engineering new capsids for tissue‑specific delivery of payload for gene therapy using AAV

We would welcome general expressions of interest to collaborate in these initiatives on an ongoing basis, using the Expression of Interest Form.