Three Ottawa-led stem cell trials get $2.2 million boost
Could stem cells help the body recover from septic shock, heart attack and liver transplantation? Researchers from the University of Ottawa and The Ottawa Hospital are now in a better position to answer these questions, thanks to $2.2 million in peer-reviewed awards from the Stem Cell Network. The funding will support three clinical trials, representing half of the trials funded in this national competition and nearly a quarter of the overall funds awarded.
Septic shock trial
Dr. Lauralyn McIntyre (of uOttawa and The Ottawa Hospital) and her colleagues* were awarded $1 million to lead the first multi-centre clinical trial of mesenchymal stem cell therapy for septic shock. This deadly condition occurs when an infection spreads throughout the body and over-activates the immune system, causing the heart and other organs to fail. The trial will involve 114 patients at 10 academic hospitals across Canada. Dr. McIntyre and her colleagues recently treated nine patients in a Phase I clinical trial of this therapy. Results will be published in the future.
Heart attack trial
Dr. Duncan Stewart (of uOttawa and The Ottawa Hospital) and his colleagues** were awarded $1 million to advance their world-first clinical trial of a genetically-enhanced stem cell therapy for heart attack. So far they have treated 29 patients in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto. The new funding will help them add additional trial sites and treat approximately 70 more patients.
Liver transplantation trial
Dr. Harold Atkins (of uOttawa and The Ottawa Hospital) and his colleagues*** were awarded $216,000 to see if a procedure involving stem cells may be able to prevent organ rejection in people who have had liver transplants. The procedure involves harvesting blood stem cells from a patient, destroying their immune system with strong chemotherapy, and then giving them back their own stem cells to grow a new immune system. The hope is that the new immune system will recognize the transplanted liver as part of the body, allowing the patient avoid the harsh drugs typically required to prevent organ rejection. The trial will involve 10 people. Dr. Atkins and his colleagues have used a similar procedure to treat auto-immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and myasthenia gravis.
In addition, Dr. Jing Wang (of uOttawa and The Ottawa Hospital) is a co-investigator on a disease team award that aims to find ways to stimulate stem cells to repair the brain. This project is led by Dr. Freda Miller of SickKids, and was awarded $500,000. This project also has a clinical trial component.
These and other Stem Cell Network awards were announced by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science for the Government of Canada and David McGuinty, Member of Parliament for Ottawa South, on November 24th at The Ottawa Hospital.
Co-investigators and key collaborators
*Septic shock trial: Duncan Stewart, Shirley Mei Dean Fergusson, Kednapa Thavorn, Timothy Ramsay, David Courtman and Shane English (all of uOttawa and The Ottawa Hospital), John Marshall and Claudia dos Santos (both of St. Michael’s Hospital), Keith Walley (University of British Columbia), Brent Winston (University of Calgary), Alexis Turgeon (Université Laval), Geeta Mehta (Mount Sinai Hospital), Robert Green (Dalhousie University), Alison Fox-Robichaud (Hamilton Health Sciences), Margaret Herridge (University Health Network), John Granton (Women’s College Hospital), Paul Hébert (Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal).
**Heart attack trial: David Courtman (uOttawa and The Ottawa Hospital), Michael Kutryk (St. Michael’s Hospital), Chris Glover (University of Ottawa Heart Institute), Hung-Ly Quoc (Montreal Heart Institute).
***Liver transplantation trial: Gary Levy (University Health Network).
The University of Ottawa—A crossroads of cultures and ideas
The University of Ottawa is home to over 50,000 students, faculty and staff, who live, work and study in both French and English. www.uottawa.ca
The Ottawa Hospital: Inspired by research. Driven by compassion
The Ottawa Hospital is one of Canada’s largest learning and research hospitals with over 1,100 beds, approximately 12,000 staff and an annual budget of over $1.2 billion. www.ohri.ca
The Stem Cell Network
Supporting and building Canada’s stem cell and regenerative medicine research sector has been the raison d'etre of the Stem Cell Network (SCN) since its inception in 2001. www.stemcellnetwork.ca