Canadian-Led Immunotherapies in Cancer (CLIC)

Dr. Natasha Kekre
“Canadian patients deserve access to the best cancer treatments in the world, and we need Canadian research to make this happen,” said Dr. Natasha Kekre of The Ottawa Hospital.

The CLIC research program, established in 2016, brings researchers, clinicians and patients from across Canada together to build Canadian expertise and capacity for innovation in the promising field of cellular immunotherapy for cancer, including CAR-T therapy.

Cellular immunotherapies such as CAR-T cell therapy have shown great promise in treating certain kinds of blood cancer and have potential in treating other cancers as well. CAR-T therapy involves extracting immune cells called T cells from a patient, genetically engineered them to enhance their cancer-killing ability, and then giving them back to the same patient.

“We are delighted to work with partners across Canada to build Canadian expertise, capacity for innovation, and clinical trials in this field,” said Dr. Kevin Hay of BC Cancer.

The first CLIC clinical trial launched in 2019 at The Ottawa Hospital and at BC Cancer and is showing promising preliminary results. The trial is the first to manufacture CAR-T therapy in Canada.

While Health Canada has approved several commercial CAR-T therapies, access is restricted to people with just a few kinds of leukemia and lymphoma, and only if they fall into certain age ranges. Commercial CAR-T therapy is also very expensive and involves shipping cells to the United States and back.

CLIC uses a different kind of cell manufacturing that opens the door to less expensive and more equitable CAR-T treatment across Canada. It also provides a platform for the development of even better cellular immunotherapies that may work for more kinds of cancer.


Funding partners

  • BioCanRx
  • BC Cancer and BC Cancer Foundation
  • The Ottawa Hospital Foundation
  • Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
  • Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation
  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • National Research Council

Core facilities and supporting resources


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