Regulation of Stem Cell-Based Therapies in Canada: Current Issues and Concerns
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Stem cell therapies offer enormous potential for the treatment of a wide range of diseases and conditions. Despite the excitement over such advances, regulators are faced with the challenge of determining criteria to ensure stem cells and their products are safe and effective for human use. However, stem cell-based products and therapies present unique regulatory challenges because standard drug development models do not wholly apply given the complexity and diversity of these products and therapies. As a result, regulatory requirements are often unclear and ambiguous creating unnecessary barriers for research. In order to better understand the barriers that might affect Canadian stem cell researchers, we sought feedback from stakeholders regarding areas of uncertainty or concern about existing regulatory oversight of cell therapies. A selection of Canadian researchers and clinicians working in the area of stem cell research were interviewed to assess certain key questions: 1) whether current regulatory requirements are easily accessible and well understood; 2) whether regulatory requirements create important challenges or barriers; and 3) whether there is a need for further guidance on the issue. The results of this survey are summarized and compared to issues and concerns experienced in other countries, as reported in the literature, to identify challenges which may be on the horizon and to provide possible solutions for regulatory reform.
KeywordsStem cell-based therapies Stem cell-based products Law Policy
The authors would like to thank the Canadian Stem Cell Network and ThéCell: le réseau de thérapie cellulaire et tissulaire for their funding support, and Adryan Toth (LL.M. candidate, University of Saskatchewan) for his assistance with research on this project.
Conflict of interest statement
The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest.
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