Newsroom

Stem cells for septic shock: world-first trial establishes safety, sets stage for larger trial

November 2, 2017

Stem cells are usually thought of as the building blocks of the body – able to give rise to all our cells and organs. But Dr. Lauralyn McIntyre, Dr. Duncan Stewart, Dr. Dean Fergusson and their colleagues are testing the idea that certain stem cells may also be able to help control the body’s immune system to reduce injury and promote healing, while improving its ability to fight infection.

They recently published the results of the world’s first clinical trial of mesenchymal stem cell therapy for septic shock, a life-threatening condition that can occur when an infection spreads throughout the body. The trial involved thirty patients, nine of whom were treated with up to 250 million mesenchymal stem cells. No serious adverse events occurred. A randomized, multi-site trial is expected to start next year, with the power to evaluate benefits as well as risks.

See the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine for details, or see this story about a patient who participated in the trial.

Authors: McIntyre LA, Stewart DJ, Mei SH, Courtman D, Watpool I, Granton J, Marshall J, Dos Santos C, Walley KR, Winston BW, Schlosser K, Fergusson DA; Canadian Critical Care Trials Group and the Canadian Critical Care Translational Biology Group.

Funders and partners: The Phase I trial was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Stem Cell Network, with additional support from the community for Regenerative Medicine Research at The Ottawa Hospital. The Stem Cell Network, the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research are providing funding to prepare for the Phase II trial. Other partners include the Canadian Critical Care Trials Group and Canadian Blood Services.

The Ottawa Hospital: Inspired by research. Driven by compassion


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. See www.ohri.ca for more information about research at The Ottawa Hospital.

University of Ottawa: —A crossroads of cultures and ideas


The University of Ottawa is home to over 50,000 students, faculty and staff, who live, work and study in both French and English. Our campus is a crossroads of cultures and ideas, where bold minds come together to inspire game-changing ideas. We are one of Canada’s top 10 research universities—our professors and researchers explore new approaches to today’s challenges. One of a handful of Canadian universities ranked among the top 200 in the world, we attract exceptional thinkers and welcome diverse perspectives from across the globe. www.uottawa.ca

Media 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