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Breakthroughs in biotherapeutics: Researchers at The Ottawa Hospital are developing new therapies that harness the power of stem cells and viruses to fight disease

March 23, 2016

Many researchers believe that the next wave of medical breakthroughs will come from harnessing the power of stem cells and viruses to fight disease. Researchers at The Ottawa Hospital are leading the way in this area of research, with a number of world-first clinical trials and projects.

Examples include:

• World’s first clinical trial of a genetically enhanced stem cell therapy for heart attack (media release)

• World’s first clinical trial of an oncolytic virus-vaccine therapy for cancer (media release, patient information)

• World’s first clinical trial of a genetically enhanced stem cell therapy for pulmonary hypertension (media release)

• World’s first clinical trial of stem cell therapy for septic shock (media release)

• Canada’s first clinical trial of mesenchymal stem cell therapy for multiple sclerosis (media release, patient information)

• Among the first clinical trials in the world of hematopoietic stem cell therapy with immunoablation for multiple sclerosis (media release, patient information)

• World’s first clinical trial to show that an intravenously-administered virus could target and spread within tumours (media release)

• World’s first treatment of stiff person syndrome through hematopoietic stem cell therapy with immunoablation (media release, patient information)

• Clinical trial to determine if stem cells from bone marrow or tendons can assist in post-surgery healing (news story)

Researchers at The Ottawa Hospital are also planning stem cell therapy trials for diseases such as stroke, kidney disease, osteoporosis and lung damage in premature babies.

Many of these trials are made possible through sophisticated cell manufacturing facilities and virus manufacturing facilities at The Ottawa Hospital.

“The Ottawa Hospital is rapidly becoming known as a leader in conducting world-first clinical trials with innovative therapies such as stem cells and viruses,” said Dr. Duncan Stewart, Executive Vice-President of Research and senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital, and professor at the University of Ottawa. “This research is truly pushing the boundaries of medical science forward, and is providing the citizens of Ottawa with access to promising new therapies.”

If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, the best approach is to speak with your health-care provider. You may also want to refer to some of the following pages:

ItStartsWithMe.ca (general information about clinical trials)

ClinicalTrials.gov (a searchable database of clinical trials)

CloserLookatStemCells.org (answers to frequently asked questions about stem cell research and stem cell tourism)

BiocanRx.ca (general information about cancer biotherapeutics including viral therapies)

About The Ottawa Hospital


The Ottawa Hospital is one of Canada’s largest learning and research hospitals with over 1,100 beds, approximately 12,000 staff and an annual budget of over $1.2 billion. Our focus on research and learning helps us develop new and innovative ways to treat patients and improve care. As a multi-campus hospital, affiliated with the University of Ottawa, we deliver specialized care to the Eastern Ontario region, but our techniques and research discoveries are adopted around the world. We engage the community at all levels to support our vision for better patient care.

For further information, please contact


Jennifer Ganton
Director, Communications and Public Relations
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Office: 613-798-5555 x 73325
Cell: 613-614-5253
jganton@ohri.ca