Dr. Michael Rudnicki

29
Nov 2016
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Stem Cell Network’s $9 million awards will advance research into new treatments

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Unveiling its 2016 funding awards last week, the Stem Cell Network announced support for six clinical research trials for new cell-based treatments.…

Unveiling its 2016 funding awards last week, the Stem Cell Network announced support for six clinical research trials for new cell-based treatments.

“The regenerative medicine research sector is fueled by stem cells and today it is at a tipping point, with the potential to see breakthroughs in our generation,” said Dr. Michael Rudnicki, Scientific Director of the Stem Cell Network.

One of the big winners was Dr. Lauralyn McIntyre, a researcher/clinician at The Ottawa Hospital and a professor at the University of Ottawa.  Her team receives $1 million of the $9 million in announced funding to conduct a cross-Canada Phase 2 clinical trial of mesenchymal stem cell therapy for septic shock.  We profiled her work on the deadly condition here

Her colleague at The Ottawa Hospital, Dr. Duncan Stewart, will use his $999,546 award to advance his work testing enhanced angiogenic cell therapy for acute heart attacks.  Check out Dr. Stewart’s Q&A here.

As well, Dr. Sandra Cohen at the Hôpital Maisonneuve Rosemont in Montreal will investigate ways to improve the expansion of cord blood hematopoietic stem cells via her $999,968 award.

Two diabetes trials were also funded: Dr. Timothy Kieffer of the University of British Columbia gets $500,000 to test a stem cell therapy for insulin replacement, while Dr. James Shapiro of the University of Alberta receives almost the same amount for a clinical trial to solve the “supply and survival problem” in using stem cell transplants.  Both Dr. Kieffer and Shapiro also receive $500,000 in funding through the Network’s Disease Team Program.

In all, 31 projects from across Canada will receive funding to help move research from lab bench to bedside in areas such as brain injury, kidney disease and breast cancer.

Making the announcement, Science Minister Kirsty Duncan said the investment will help translate discoveries into better health and economic growth for Canadians.  It was made possible with the announcement of a two-year, $12-million extension of the Stem Cell Network in the March federal budget.

In a news release, Dr. Stewart said the funding “brings us a big step closer to figuring out how to harness the incredible potential of stem cells to treat devastating diseases.”

 

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23
Aug 2016
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Dr. Michael Rudnicki

Ottawa researcher receives $4.9 million grant

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Congratulations to Dr. Michael Rudnicki at The Ottawa Hospital who has been awarded $4.9 million to further his research into stem cells and muscle regeneration.…

Congratulations to Dr. Michael Rudnicki at The Ottawa Hospital who has been awarded $4.9 million to further his research into stem cells and muscle regeneration.

Dr. Rudnicki, who is also Scientific Director of the Stem Cell Network and a University of Ottawa professor, received the grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) as part of its Foundation funding competition to provide the country’s top health researchers with stable, long-term support.

His colleague Dr. Lynn Megeney also received funding, under CIHR’s Project competition, to study heart muscle regeneration and remodeling.

Dr. Rudnicki is one of the world’s leading researchers in stem cells and muscle regeneration. Last fall, his lab published a paper in Nature Medicine that could completely alter perceptions on how Duchenne muscular dystrophy happens — linking it to intrinsic defects in the function of muscle stem cells

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25
Apr 2016
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Dr. Arezu Jahani-Asl

Researchers take aim at protein in fight against brain tumours

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Researchers believe they have found a key piece to the puzzle of brain tumour formation.

A study published today in Nature Neuroscience shows that glioblastoma tumours need a protein called OSMR (Oncostatin M Receptor) to form.…

Researchers believe they have found a key piece to the puzzle of brain tumour formation.

A study published today in Nature Neuroscience shows that glioblastoma tumours need a protein called OSMR (Oncostatin M Receptor) to form. Glioblastoma is one of the most deadly cancers, resistant to radiation, chemotherapy and difficult to remove with surgery.

“The fact that most patients with these brain tumours live only 16 months is just heartbreaking,” said Dr. Arezu Jahani-Asl, lead author of the study. Dr. Jahani-Asl, an assistant professor at McGill University and a principal investigator at the Jewish General Hospital, did much of the research while she was a postdoctoral fellow co supervised by Dr. Michael Rudnicki at The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa and by Dr. Azad Bonni from Harvard Medical School and Washington University School of Medicine.

“Right now there is no effective treatment, and that’s what drives me to study this disease,” said Dr. Jahani-Asl.

The research team studied human brain tumour stem cells taken from glioblastoma patients. While it was previously believed that any cancer cell could reproduce to form a whole tumour, researchers have since learned that in brain cancer only a few kinds of cells have this ability. If a single one of these brain tumour stem cells is left behind after surgery, it can create a whole new tumour.  Working with mice, the research team found that blocking OSMR activity in these cells prevented them from forming brain tumours.

“Being able to stop tumour formation entirely was a dramatic and stunning result,” said Dr. Rudnicki, senior co corresponding author of the study. “It means that this protein is a key piece of the puzzle, and could be a possible target for future treatments.”

Dr. Bonni, senior co-corresponding author, said that while the results are exciting, there is much more work to be done.  “The next step is to find small molecules or antibodies that can shut down the protein OSMR or stop it from interacting with EGFR (the epidermal growth factor receptor that drives tumour formation in glioblastoma).  But any human treatment targeting this protein is years away.”

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19
Nov 2015
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Dr. Michael Rudnicki

Trudeau government urged to invest in stem cells

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A week after his lab unveiled its game-changing research into the root causes of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (read about it here), Dr.

A week after his lab unveiled its game-changing research into the root causes of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (read about it here), Dr. Michael Rudnicki is urging the new Trudeau government to “put its money where its future is: stem cell research.”

In an iPolitics piece published today, Dr. Rudnicki applauded the new government for appointing Dr. Kirsty Duncan as a full-standing minister of Science.

“This is a welcome development in a country that hasn’t been celebrated enough for its contributions to the global scientific research enterprise,” writes Dr. Rudnicki, Scientific Director and CEO of the Stem Cell Network (SCN).  “One area of research that is particularly underfunded in Canada is, ironically, one that can start making a drastic difference in the health of Canadians and people around the world: stem cell research and personalized medicine.”

He recommended the new government consider the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy, which he called “the most progressive results-orientated health care document produced in years.”  Crafted by a coalition of scientists, medical doctors, health charity executives, industry experts, business leaders and philanthropists, the Strategy is championed by the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation.

Thursday’s article is the second recent iPolitics piece advocating stronger investment in stem cell research and development. In August, Foundation President & CEO authored a piece titled Small cells, big future: Why we need a national stem cell effort.

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17
Nov 2015
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From right, Will Wang, Caroline Brun, Dr. Michael Rudnicki and Dr. Nicolas Dumont

Canadian reseachers deliver another game-changer

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Within the space of two weeks, two Canadian scientists have unveiled game-changing research into stem cells — providing further proof of Canada’s prominent position in the field.…

Within the space of two weeks, two Canadian scientists have unveiled game-changing research into stem cells — providing further proof of Canada’s prominent position in the field.

On November 5th, the University of Toronto’s Dr. John Dick published a paper in Science that has researchers around the world rethinking how human blood gets made.  Dr. Dick’s team showed that the traditional understanding of blood production is wrong and that stem cells drive production of different kinds of blood cells much earlier than previously thought. This has huge implications for future treatments for blood-based cancers. We blogged about it here.

Yesterday came news that a University of Ottawa team led by Dr. Michael Rudnicki published a paper in Nature Medicine that could completely alter perceptions on how Duchenne muscular dystrophy happens — linking it to intrinsic defects in the function of muscle stem cells.

Affecting about one in about 3,600 boys, Duchenne muscular dystrophy occurs when genetic mutations deplete production of dystrophin protein, causing muscles to deteriorate.

According to an Ottawa Hospital Research Institute release, dystrophin was thought to be a simple structural protein found only in muscle fibres. The Ottawa team discovered that muscle stem cells also express the dystrophin protein. Without it they can produce only one-tenth the number of muscle precursor cells needed to generate functional muscle fibre.

Dr. Nicolas A. Dumont and Yu Xin (Will) Wang are co-lead authors on the paper. that also showed that dystrophin is a key piece of the molecular machinery that enables muscle stem cells to function.

“Muscle stem cells that lack dystrophin cannot tell which way is up and which way is down,” said Dr. Rudnicki. “This is crucial because muscle stem cells need to sense their environment to decide whether to produce more stem cells or to form new muscle fibres. Without this information, muscle stem cells cannot divide properly and cannot properly repair damaged muscle.”

Dr. Rudnicki was featured in many news reports about the discovery, including this feature by CBC.

 

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30
Jan 2015
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Doubts about Howe’s treatment underscore need for Strategy

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The experimental stem cell treatment Gordie Howe underwent in Tijuana in December has raised further scientific concerns.

According to a report by Canadian Press health writer Sheryl Ubelacker that was carried online by the Globe and Mail, regenerative medicine experts question whether stem cells are actually responsible for what Howe’s son has called a “miraculous” recovery.…

The experimental stem cell treatment Gordie Howe underwent in Tijuana in December has raised further scientific concerns.

According to a report by Canadian Press health writer Sheryl Ubelacker that was carried online by the Globe and Mail, regenerative medicine experts question whether stem cells are actually responsible for what Howe’s son has called a “miraculous” recovery.

According to Dr. Mick Bhatia, Director of the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute at McMaster University, Howe’s apparent recovery has many unknown factors. “Is this a transient effect, or is it really a perceived or somewhat of a placebo effect and is there something really happening? Scientifically and biologically that is important,” he told CP.

In addition, Dr. Bhatia is concerned that immunosuppression drugs or any other drugs Howe might have taken before the treatment could be showing some of the improvement effects. “We really don’t know.”

Dr. Michael Rudnicki, CEO and Scientific Director of the Stem Cell Network and a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, told CP  that while he couldn’t speak specifically about Howe’s treatment in Mexico as it’s not clear how much the hockey legend has improved or whether the stem cell treatment he received was responsible, some patients have suffered adverse effects from therapies received at clinics abroad. “There’s real potential for doing harm,” said Dr. Rudnicki. “And a person claiming to get better doesn’t prove anything,” he added.

Although there is currently no stem cell treatment for stroke approved by Health Canada, the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan will lead the way to delivering five to 10 novel treatments for chronic diseases within 10 years.

If Canada makes stem cell research and development a national priority, the Strategy will ultimately ensure the access to stem cell treatments that are proven to be safe and effective.

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07
Jan 2014
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Dr Michael Rudnicki

‘They desire a better country’

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The end of the year brought new recognition to Dr. Michael Rudnicki, one of Canada’s leading stem cell scientists and a member of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation’s Board of Directors.…

The end of the year brought new recognition to Dr. Michael Rudnicki, one of Canada’s leading stem cell scientists and a member of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation’s Board of Directors. Dr. Rudnicki has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for contributing to scientific breakthroughs in the area of muscle development.

“Stem cell research is really an area of strategic strength in Canada,” Dr. Rudnicki, CEO and Scientific Director of the Stem Cell Network, told the Ottawa Citizen in its report of the latest appointments.

From the discovery of stem cells in 1961 by Drs. Jim Till and Ernest McCulloch until today, Canada has played a leading role in stem cell research. Clearly, Canadian researchers “desire a better country” or desiderantes meliorem patriam, as the motto of the Order of Canada says.

The Order of Canada recognizes outstanding lifelong contributions made by Canadians in different fields. The honour of the Officer is the second highest recognition, awarded for a lifetime of achievement and merit of a high degree, especially in service to Canada or to humanity at large. Dr. Rudnicki’s appointment means the Foundation’s Board of Directors now includes six Order of Canada honorees, including L. Jacques Ménard, who holds the highest rank awarded, Companion.

Other honorees include rock stars Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo and actress/filmmaker Sarah Polley.

Dr. Rudnicki is a Senior Scientist and the Director of the Regenerative Medicine Program and the Sprott Centre for Stem Cell Research at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. He is also a Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Ottawa and holds the Canada Research Chair in Molecular Genetics.

His research focuses on the molecular mechanisms that regulate the determination, proliferation, and differentiation of stem cells tissue regeneration. His lab identified proteins that play a fundamental role in muscle stem cell function and that could be used to treat muscle diseases. Muscle diseases, such as Muscular Dystrophy in its different forms, are caused by genetic deficiency. There is hope that stem cells can help repair or replace damaged genes.

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