Research helps prepare for next wave of H1N1

September 25, 2009

As health care providers brace for another wave of H1N1 influenza this fall, research is helping to determine how best to treat and prevent this new infection. The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) is leading the way with several important studies:

  • Dr. Lauralyn McIntyre and Dr. Sal Kanji are leading the local arms of two national studies of critically ill H1N1 patients. One study is trying to determine who is most at risk for severe illness, while the other is examining how antiviral drugs are metabolized. Eighteen patients have been enrolled so far at The Ottawa Hospital.
  • Dr. Anne McCarthy is working with Dr. Larry Chambers from Elisabeth Bruyère Research Institute to develop the “Ottawa Influenza Decision Aid” to help health care workers make an informed decision about whether or not be vaccinated. Dr. McCarthy is also part of a national network (along with Drs. Curtis Cooper, Virginia Roth and Kathryn Suh) that is doing clinical trials to evaluate the new H1N1 vaccine.
  • Dr. Duncan Stewart is investigating the ability of bone marrow stem cells to repair lung injury and prevent blood vessels from leaking and flooding the lungs; this is the primary cause of death among those with H1N1.
  • Dr. Michel Chrétien is involved in developing a novel type of antibody that could temporarily neutralize the H1N1 virus in the blood and be prepared more quickly than a vaccine. This is in collaboration with the International Consortium on Antivirals, which he co-founded in 2003.

    OHRI researchers are helping to develop national H1N1 programs and policies. Dr. Raphael Saginur is working on an approach that Research Ethics Boards could use to quickly and safely approve H1N1 studies while Dr. Kumanan Wilson is helping to develop safe and responsible vaccination policies.

    “I was in Toronto during SARS and one of the big lessons was that we needed more research to know how to deal with the epidemic,” said Dr. Duncan Stewart, CEO and Scientific Director of the OHRI. “I’m confident that this time, we’ll be in a much better position.”

    About the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
    The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and is an affiliated institute of the University of Ottawa, closely associated with the University’s Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences. The OHRI includes more than 1,300 scientists, clinical investigators, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff conducting research to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease.