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Ottawa researchers to play major role in $8.7M research project aimed at curing HIV

November 28, 2013

Researchers from The Ottawa Hospital, CHEO and the University of Ottawa (uOttawa) will play a major role in a new research project that aims to find a cure for HIV and contribute to the global effort to put an end to AIDS. The project was awarded $8.7M through the Canadian Initiative for HIV Cure Research, a partnership between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR) and the International AIDS Society (IAS).

“We’ve made incredible advances in HIV research and treatment, but the job is not yet done,” said Dr. Jonathan Angel, a principal investigator on the new project and HIV specialist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) and uOttawa. “Although current treatments are very effective, many have serious side effects, they are very expensive, and they cannot completely eliminate the virus. The goal of this new project is to understand how HIV hides inside certain cells during treatment, and to find a way to kill those infected cells. If we can do this, we’ll be poised to have a cure.”

“This project will bring together HIV researchers across Canada with complementary fields of expertise. By doing so, and with the support of substantive funding, this project provides a platform to tackle key issues in new ways, using new tools and new ideas,” said Marc-André Langlois, co-investigator on the project and assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology at uOttawa. “This is definitely a very promising and aggressive initiative for finding a cure for HIV.”

The overall project, called the Canadian HIV Cure Enterprise (CanCURE), is led by Dr. Éric A. Cohen at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM). Dr. Jonathan Angel will co-chair the CanCURE Steering Committee with Dr. Cohen. Other Ottawa researchers involved in the project include Dr. John Bell from OHRI and uOttawa, Dr. Marc-André Langlois from uOttawa and Dr. Ashok Kumar from CHEO Research Institute and uOttawa.

The Ottawa researchers will work on a number of projects, including:

  • Human clinical trials of a therapeutic HIV vaccine and an immune-stimulating protein
  • Harnessing oncolytic (cancer-fighting) viruses to attack HIV-infected cells
  • Understanding how HIV hides inside certain cells during treatment
  • Identifying the factors that promote immune evasion in chronically-infected patients
“There are huge personal, societal and economic costs to the global HIV epidemic”, said Dr. Marc Ouellette, Scientific Director for the CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity. “Finding a cure is critical to turning the tide and bringing an end to AIDS. Canadian researchers have much to contribute to this global effort and we are proud to be supporting these new research projects with our partners.”

“Finding a cure for HIV and AIDS is within reach and together with our partners, we have an opportunity to support a global research initiative dedicated to that purpose,” says Christopher Bunting, President and Chief Executive Officer, CANFAR. “With HIV on the rise it is more important than ever to end AIDS globally and we know that through research and collaboration, we have a chance to bring this epidemic to its knees.”

The project was announced on November 28th in Montreal, by the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Minister of Health. See the Government of Canada’s news release for further details. December 1 is World AIDS Day.

About the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute


The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and is an affiliated institute of the University of Ottawa, closely associated with the university’s Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences. OHRI includes more than 1,700 scientists, clinical investigators, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff conducting research to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease. www.ohri.ca

About the University of Ottawa


The University of Ottawa is committed to research excellence and encourages an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge creation, which attracts the best academic talent from across Canada and around the world. The University is an important stakeholder in the National Capital Region’s economic development, with a total regional economic impact estimated at $4 billion annually.

Media contact


Paddy Moore
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
613-737-8899 ext. 73687
613-323-5680 (cell)
padmoore@ohri.ca