Could stem cells repair the heart, fight infections, mend premature lungs, and heal the brain after stroke?

Posted on Friday, April 13, 2018

Nerve cells grown from spinal cord stem cells

Photo credit : Ahmed Galuta

Ottawa researchers closer to finding out, thanks to $999,900 from the Stem Cell Network

Researchers from the University of Ottawa, The Ottawa Hospital and CHEO and are bringing discoveries made in the lab closer to human trials and therapies, thanks to four new peer-reviewed research grants from the Stem Cell Network worth $999,900, part of an overall investment of $4 million across Canada. The Ottawa-based grants include:

Treating major heart attacks

Dr. Duncan Stewart (The Ottawa Hospital, uOttawa) and colleagues were awarded $500,000 to advance their world-first clinical trial of a genetically-enhanced stem cell therapy for heart attack. The new funding will help them open an additional trial site and run a preliminary analysis of the first 60 patients. Collaborators: David Courtman, Michael Kutryk, Michel Lemay, Chris Glover, Hung-Ly Quoc, Josep Rodes-Cabau, Dominique Joyal, Alexander Dick, Howard Leong Poi, Kim Connelly.

Clinical trial for septic shock

Dr. Lauralyn McIntyre, Dr. Shirley Mei (The Ottawa Hospital and uOttawa) and colleagues were awarded $200,000 to develop a stem cell bank and the final cell product to be used in the first multi-centre Phase 2 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 multiple organs to fail.

The trial will involve 114 patients at 10 academic hospitals across Canada. A Phase 1 trial found no adverse events associated with this treatment. Dr. McIntyre was awarded an additional $100,000 for preparing regulatory and ethics review documents and operational training and practise enrolling one to two patients at each of the participating sites.

Collaborators: Duncan Stewart, Dean Fergusson, John Marshall, Keith Walley, Claudia dos Santos, Brent Winston, Shane English, Alexis Turgeon, Geeta Mehta, Robert Green, Alison Fox-Robichaud, Margaret Herridge, John Granton, Paul Hebert, Kednapa Thavorn, Timothy Ramsay, The Ottawa Hospital Biotherapeutics Manufacturing Centre, Dana Devine, Canadian Blood Services

Repairing the brain after stroke

Dr. Eve Tsai (The Ottawa Hospital, uOttawa) and colleagues were awarded $100,000 to test whether a new biomaterial can stimulate the brain’s own stem cells to repair damage after a stroke in animal models. This biomaterial could be inserted during routine surgery after stroke. It would slowly release molecules that have been shown to boost the ability of brain stem cells to restore motor function after stroke. Collaborators: Xudong Cao, Ruth Slack.

Making new blood vessels in newborn lungs

Dr. Bernard Thébaud (The Ottawa Hospital, CHEO, uOttawa) and colleagues were awarded $99,900 to test umbilical cord blood cells called endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) for treating high blood pressure in the lungs in experimental models. In newborns this condition doubles the risk of death, and survivors have long-term health problems. Dr. Thébaud’s team was the first to show that EPCs can lower lung blood pressure and encourage the lungs to grow by making new blood vessels in experimental models of newborn lung injury. This research may lead to a treatment that could benefit patients with other cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, stroke or preeclampsia. Collaborators: Mervin Yoder, Dylan Burger.


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