Ontario invests $6.5M in regenerative medicine and cancer research in Ottawa

May 28, 2010

Ottawa researchers have been awarded $6.5M from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation for two major projects in regenerative medicine and cancer research. The funding was awarded through the highly competitive Global Leadership Round in Genomics & Life Sciences (GL2).

The regenerative medicine project is worth $4.3M and is led by Dr. Duncan Stewart of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) and the University of Ottawa. This goal of this project is to harness adult stem cells to repair and regenerate tissues such as the heart, lungs and kidneys. Dr. Stewart and his colleagues have already initiated one clinical trial in this area (for the fatal lung disease pulmonary hypertension), and another clinical trial (for heart attack) is expected to start later this year. The new funding will help the researchers develop similar therapies for other diseases, while also investigating new ways to use genes, biomaterials and imaging technologies to enhance stem cell therapy.

The cancer research project is worth $2.2M and is led by Dr. Brent Zanke of the OHRI and the University of Ottawa. The goal of this project is to investigate genes that are linked to colorectal cancer and to develop a genetic test to predict the risk of developing this disease. Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer in Ontario, and although the province has a fecal screening kit that is highly effective (allowing up to 90% of cancers to be prevented) it is not widely used. Dr. Zanke and his colleagues believe that combining this screening program with a genetic test would make it much more efficient and effective, because screening could be targeted at those who are at greatest risk.

“We are at the cusp of a new era of medicine, one that uses targeted and personalized approaches to prevent, diagnose and treat disease,” said Dr. Stewart, CEO and Scientific Director of OHRI, Vice-President of Research at The Ottawa Hospital and Professor of Medicine at the University of Ottawa. “We are on the leading edge in this area, and this support from the government of Ontario will put us out in front, and help ensure that the people of Ontario benefit.”

The regenerative medicine project involves more than a dozen scientists affiliated with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, the University of Ottawa, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital and the University Health Network. A number of private sector partners are also involved.

The cancer research project involves eight scientists from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, the University of Ottawa, McMaster University, the University of Toronto, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto General Hospital, the University of Toronto and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. Arctic Dx is a private sector partner.

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 1,500 scientists, clinical investigators, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff conducting research to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease.

Media contact
Jennifer Paterson
Director, Communications and Public Relations
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
613-798-5555 ext. 73325