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Grant valued at $714,000 awarded for the study of Spinal Muscular Atrophy

August 13, 2014

Drs. Robin Parks and Rashmi Kothary have been awarded a five year grant valued at $714,000 by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to advance the study and potential treatment of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a degenerative disorder that primarily affects newborns and young children, causing muscle weakness and leading to death in severe cases. There is currently no treatment or cure for SMA. Drs. Parks and Kothary plan to explore novel therapies based on restoring levels of the survival motor neuron (SMN) protein, which is reduced in the deadly SMA disease. A proportion of SMN is naturally released by cells in small vesicles called exosomes. Exosomes released from one cell can be taken up by other cells in the body. Drs. Parks and Kothary will study whether it is possible to develop SMN-containing exosomes as a therapy to deliver the SMN protein to deficient cells in mice. Their hope is to eventually develop an effective therapy for people afflicted with SMA.

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.

Media contact
Paddy Moore
Communications and Public Relations
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
613-737-8899 x73687
613-323-5680 (cell)