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Contact Information

Harold Atkins, MD, FRCPC
613 737-7700 70341

501 Smyth Road, Box 926
Ottawa, ON K1H 8L6

Information for patients with rare autoimmune diseases interested in stem cell therapy: http://www.ohri.ca/newsroom/newsstory.asp?ID=514

Information for MS patients interested in stem cell therapy: http://www.ohri.ca/newsroom/newsstory.asp?ID=584

Research Activities

Current Research Projects

Stem Cell Transplantation For The Treatment Of Autoimmune Diseases.

Multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases result from the dysregulation of the immune response in individuals with permissive immunogenetics exposed to poorly identified environmental initiating factors. Thus, the removal of a diseased immune organ using systemic therapy (chemotherapy, antibody therapy and radiotherapy) and replacement with a healthy new organ derived from purified hematopoietic stem cells could be a potentially valuable and curative treatment for patients with autoimmune diseases. This paradigm is currently being tested in clinical studies of patients with Multiple sclerosis.

I have initiated a multicenter trial to study the effects of dose-intensive immunosuppression on the immunological activity of MS using autologous T cell depleted hematopoietic stem cell support. Changes in the immune system are being monitored using both clinical and laboratory assays of immune function. Data on the changes in CNS destruction, lymphocyte subpopulations, repertoire complexity and antigen directed immune cell repopulation are being collected and will be correlated with clinical indicators of immune and MS activity. The alterations detected in the immune system will provide vital information about the immunological changes necessary for disease response and disease control. In the event that this therapy fails to curb recurrent MS activity in a patient, these studies will provide knowledge of the earliest immune alterations in the renewed activity of this disease.

Oncolytic viruses for the treatment of human marrow derived malignancies.

In collaboration with Dr. John Bell, I am looking at the effects of oncolytic viruses on acute leukemia, myeloma and lymphoma cells. Different cell types exhibit variable sensitivity to virus induced cytolytic effects. My current work is examining the spectrum of cytolysis and whether resistance to viral effects can be amplified or selected. Ultimately, the goal is to examine the molecular/genetic basis of the resistance. Coincident with this work, preclinical studies are being completed that will guide the use of oncolytic viruses in the clinical setting.