Precision medicine approach for leukemia awarded $1.5M

May 1, 2019

The research team in a labAcute myeloid leukemia (AML) is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. For the last 40 years, most patients have been treated with a one-size-fits-all chemotherapy approach, but many don’t respond at all or stop responding after a time.

A team of researchers from The Ottawa Hospital and uOttawa is hoping to revolutionize treatment for AML by developing a “precision medicine” approach. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research recently awarded $1.5M for their research proposal, which ranked #1 in the competition.

The team aims to harness the power of epigenetics (studying the molecular tags that turn genes on and off) to develop new targeted treatments for different forms of AML. They have already shown that certain drugs can reverse the epigenetic state of AML and a related cancer called ALL. These treatments have shown great promise in mice and this new funding will help the researchers get closer to human clinical trials.

Principal Investigators: William Stanford, Marjorie Brand, Jean-François Couture, Jeffrey Dilworth, Caryn Ito.

Co-Investigators: Grace Christou, Jull Fulcher, Mitchell Sabloff.

Core resources: StemCore, Flow Cytometry, Bioinformatics, High Content Imaging, Hematology Bio-Bank

Research at The Ottawa Hospital is possible because of generous donations to The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

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 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.

Media Contact

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


Disease and research area tags: Blood cancer, Cancer, Biomarkers, Epidemiology