Ottawa Methods Centre (OMC)

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


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.

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