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.”
The Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine (OIRM) today named Dr. Duncan Stewart, one of Canada’s leading stem cell researchers, as its new President and Scientific Director.…
The Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine (OIRM) today named Dr. Duncan Stewart, one of Canada’s leading stem cell researchers, as its new President and Scientific Director.
“It will be my pleasure to serve OIRM by helping the organization, its researchers, trainees and staff to fulfill their passion to make a difference for all Ontarians,” Dr. Stewart said in a media release.
He succeeds Dr. Janet Rossant, who launched OIRM in 2014 but recently took on a new role as the Gairdner Foundation’s President and Scientific Director. She praised Dr. Stewart “the perfect choice to lead OIRM as it moves into the next phase of growth.”
The head of research at The Ottawa Hospital and a professor at the University of Ottawa, Dr. Stewart co-leads an early stage clinical trial to test the use of stem cells to treat septic shock. It has shown promising preliminary results. And he is conducting a Phase 2 trial to investigate the use of genetically enhanced stem cells to treat heart attack patients.
Dr. Stewart will remain in Ottawa to pursue his lab and clinical research activities and to carry on as Executive Vice-President of Research at The Ottawa Hospital.
“Given the breadth of his skills, Duncan brings unique perspectives on the regenerative medicine environment, particularly in the critical area of clinical trials and the development of new treatments, which is a key part of our mission,” said Sharon Colle, Chair of the OIRM Board and President and CEO, of The Foundation Fighting Blindness.
A 73-year-old man from Hawkesbury, Ontario, survived a deadly infection after receiving millions of mesenchymal stem cells in a world-first trial at The Ottawa Hospital.…
A 73-year-old man from Hawkesbury, Ontario, survived a deadly infection after receiving millions of mesenchymal stem cells in a world-first trial at The Ottawa Hospital.
Charles Berniqué developed severe septic shock in June of last year after his esophagus burst, likely from food poisoning. Septic shock is a deadly condition in which rampant infection triggers hyper-activation of the immune system, causing the cardiovascular system and organs to fail.
Mr. Berniqué was first treated by thoracic surgeons, who restored his fluids, repaired his esophagus and started antibiotic therapy. He was placed into a coma in the intensive care unit where mechanical ventilation and dialysis supported his heart, lungs and kidneys.
During this time, his wife Maureen consented to his participation in the clinical trial led by Drs. Duncan Stewart and Lauralyn McIntyre.
Within 24 hours, Mr. Berniqué received an intravenous infusion of 30 million mesenchymal stem cells originally extracted from the bone marrow of a healthy Ottawa volunteer.
“Our laboratory studies that showed that mesenchymal stem cell therapy tripled survival in a mouse model of septic shock,” Dr. Stewart, Executive Vice-President of Research and senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital, said in a media release. “The cells also reduced damaging inflammation and helped the mice eliminate the bacteria.”
Dr. McIntyre, an intensive care physician and senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital, was impressed by the results. “Researchers around the world have spent decades trying to find a therapy that will treat the root causes of septic shock rather than just the symptoms, but so far, none of these therapies have improved survival,” she said. “We don’t know whether the cell therapy played any role in Mr. Berniqué’ s remarkable recovery, but the cells were very well tolerated and we are excited to continue to study this promising therapy in more patients.”
Mesenchymal stem cells have been studied extensively in human clinical trials for other conditions, but The Ottawa Hospital trial is the first in the world to evaluate the cells specifically for the treatment of septic shock. The main goal of the Phase I trial is to evaluate the tolerability and feasibility of the cells. However, the researchers have already received funding from the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine to begin scaling up their cell bank for a larger Phase II trial, which will help determine if the therapy is effective against septic shock.
As for Mr. Berniqué, he’s grateful to be alive and happy that the care he received may do the same for others. “It is tremendous what The Ottawa Hospital did for me,” he said. “I was so close to death, but I received the best care in the world and got to participate in this study which could help many people.”