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New company puts Ottawa at the forefront of stem cell research in Canada

OTTAWA (April 23, 2003) - The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) today announced the launch of a new spin-off company dedicated to researching and developing new stem cell-based therapies for some of the world's most disabling diseases.

StemPath Inc. represents one of the few stem cell companies working exclusively in the area of adult stem cells. The ambitious company was created through $1 million in start-up funding from Genesys Capital Partners., manager of the Triax-Covington New Generation Biotech Funds, a venture capital group focused on biotechnology.

Stem cells are the "master" cells that provide the starting material for every organ and tissue in the body. Stem cells have the ability to differentiate, or develop into highly specialized cells, such as heart, bone and muscle cells. The hope is to use stem cells one day to create new tissue to treat diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson's and degenerative neuromuscular diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

"This company has grown out of a strategic initiative on the part of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute to build up intellectual property in the area of stem cells and stem cell biology," said Dr. Michael Rudnicki, Director of the Molecular Medicine Program at the OHRI and future director of the Institute's Centre for Stem Cell and Gene Therapy. The 30,000-square-foot facility, which is scheduled for completion in 2004, will be one of the largest stem cell research facilities in the country.

"Our goal is to identify drugs that modulate the behavior of adult stem cells, promote their activity and stimulate regeneration," said Dr. Rudnicki who, along with OHRI Senior Scientist Dr. Lynn Megeney, is a founding scientist of StemPath Inc.

Led by Dr. Megeney, the two Ottawa scientists and their research teams recently became the first in the world to identify a population of cells in cardiac tissue that have stem cell-like activity. The hope is that, given the right mixture of factors and environment, this population of "pluripotent" stem cells could become fully functioning cardiac muscle cells. The transplant of healthy heart muscles could provide new hope for patients with chronic heart disease or for those who have suffered a heart attack. StemPath scientists will also investigate the function of stem cells in skeletal muscle.

Dr. Ronald Worton, CEO and Scientific Director of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, sees this as an exciting extension of the OHRI vision to become the premier centre for stem cell research in Canada, and a great stimulus to the biotechnology sector in Ontario. "Having Genesys Capital Partners involved at such an early stage is the catalyst needed to bring this venture to the next level."

Genesys Capital Partner's investment in StemPath is part of its Ottawa Biotechnology Innovation Fund, which provides seed funding for companies coming out of Ottawa's vibrant health and life sciences research community.

"Part of our investment philosophy is looking for areas where Canada has a resident scientific strength which intersects with high growth market opportunities," said Kelly Holman, Managing Director of Genesys Capital Partners.

"We believe that Ottawa, under Dr. Worton and Dr. Rudnicki's leadership, is growing to be a center of excellence in stem cell research."

About the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute:

The OHRI is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital, and a major part of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Health Sciences. With more than 200 scientists, 225 students and more than 400 support staff, and $42 million in external funding, the OHRI is one of the fastest growing and most respected hospital-based research institutes in Canada. Additional information about the OHRI and StemPath Inc. can be found at

About Genesys Capital Partners:

Genesys Capital Partners Inc. is a Canadian capital management firm focused on building companies in the high-growth sectors of healthcare and biotechnology. Through its expertise and network, Genesys accelerates the development of commercially viable emerging companies that represent promising biotechnology investment opportunities. With over $100 million of assets under management, Genesys is one of the largest Canadian-based venture capital firms exclusively focused on the healthcare and biotechnology industries. For more information, visit

Media contact:

Sharon Kirkey
Communications Officer
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
613-798-5555 ext. 17840

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