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$6.5M supports regenerative medicine and cancer research in Ottawa


Ottawa, ON – Ottawa researchers have been awarded $6.5 million  for two major projects in regenerative medicine and cancer research.

The regenerative medicine project is worth $4.3 million and is led by Dr Duncan Stewart of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) and the University of Ottawa. The project’s is to harness adult stem cells to repair and regenerate tissues such as the heart, lungs and kidneys. Dr Stewart and his colleagues have already initiated one clinical trial in this area (for the fatal lung disease pulmonary hypertension), and another clinical trial (for heart attack) is expected to start later this year. The new funding will help the researchers develop similar therapies for other diseases, while also investigating new ways to use genes, biomaterials and imaging technologies to enhance stem cell therapy.

The cancer research project is worth $2.2 million and is led by Dr Brent Zanke of the OHRI and the University of Ottawa. The goal of this project is to investigate genes that are linked to colorectal cancer and to develop a genetic test to predict the risk of developing this disease. Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer in Ontario, and although the province has a fecal screening kit that is highly effective (allowing up to 90% of cancers to be prevented) it is not widely used. Dr Zanke and his colleagues believe that combining this screening program with a genetic test would make it much more efficient and effective, because screening could be targeted at those who are at greatest risk.

“We are at the cusp of a new era of medicine, one that uses targeted and personalized approaches to prevent, diagnose and treat disease,” said Dr Stewart, CEO and Scientific Director of OHRI, vice-president of research at the Ottawa Hospital and professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa.

The regenerative medicine project involves more than a dozen scientists affiliated with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, the University of Ottawa, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, St Michael’s Hospital and the University Health Network. A number of private sector partners are also involved.

The cancer research project involves eight scientists from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, the University of Ottawa, McMaster University, the University of Toronto, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto General Hospital, the University of Toronto and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. Arctic Dx is a private sector partner.

The funding was awarded through the Ontario Global Leadership Round in Genomics & Life Sciences (GL2).