A team of researchers from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) and the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) has been awarded $367,000 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and $75,000 from the Stem Cell Network to lead the first clinical trial in the world of a stem cell therapy for septic shock. This deadly condition occurs when an infection spreads throughout the body and over-activates the immune system, resulting in severe organ damage and death in 30 to 40 per cent of cases. Septic shock accounts for 20 per cent of all Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admissions in Canada and costs $4 billion annually. Under the leadership of Dr. Lauralyn McIntyre, this new "Phase I" trial will test the experimental therapy in up to 15 patients with septic shock at The Ottawa Hospital's ICU.
The treatment involves mesenchymal stem cells, also called mesenchymal stromal cells or MSCs. Like other stem cells, they can give rise to a variety of more specialized cells and tissues and can help repair and regenerate damaged organs. They also have a unique ability to modify the body's immune response and enhance the clearance of infectious organisms. They can be found in adult bone marrow and other tissues, as well as umbilical cord blood, and they seem to be easily transplantable between people, because they are more able to avoid immune rejection.
There has been a great deal of interest in using MSCs to treat disease, with most research so far focused on heart disease, stroke, inflammatory bowel disease and blood cancers. Hundreds of patients with these diseases have already been treated with MSCs through clinical trials, with results suggesting that these cells are safe in these patients, and have promising signs of effectiveness. MSCs are still considered experimental however, and have not been approved by Health Canada as a standard therapy for any disease.
In recent years, a number of animal studies have suggested that MSCs may a
|Contact: Jennifer Ganton|
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute