Thursday, June 19, 2008

Stem Cell Success in Lung Disease

Canadian Scientists Deliver On Promise Of Stem Cell Therapy For Lung Disease

MONTREAL, June 19 /CNW Telbec/ -

Two Quebecers suffering from pulmonary hypertension, a rare but debilitating lung disease, were treated in Montreal with their own gene-modified stem cells. This experimental treatment was administered at the Jewish General Hospital's Centre for Pulmonary Vascular

"Our present therapies for pulmonary hypertension may control the disease
for a few years, but often fail and do not represent a cure," said Dr. David
Langleben, Director of the Centre for Pulmonary Vascular Disease and the local
Principle Investigator for this study. "We need new approaches such as this
cell-based therapy."

The therapy, developed by Dr. Duncan Stewart, CEO of the Ottawa Health
Research Institute, and founding scientist of Northern Therapeutics Inc., is
unique in the world as
it is the only clinical study employing patient stem
cells genetically modified for clinical use in lung disease

A team of scientists at the JGH led by Dr. Jacques Galipeau, Hematologist
and stem cell researcher, genetically engineered the stem cells with synthetic
DNA in an ultra specialized laboratory to produce nitric oxide, a critical
molecule involved in the repair and protection of blood vessels. With the
sponsorship of the Stem Cell Network, the study has moved forward and the
highest cell dose ever given to a human subject was administered to one of the

"These enhanced stem cells are given in a heart catheterization suite,
and lodge in the lung where it is hoped they will stimulate the repair and
regeneration of blood vessels in the lung," explained Dr. Galipeau, Associate
Professor of Medicine and Oncology at McGill University.

This procedure has cured laboratory rats with pulmonary hypertension, and
this study in Canadian volunteers afflicted with pulmonary hypertension seeks
to assess the safety of this type of stem cell treatment. This study, which
includes a site in Toronto as well as in Montreal, is the only one of its kind
in Canada, and rests at the cutting edge of stem cell therapies worldwide.

Two patients, enrolled in Toronto, were treated but received a lower dose
of cells. This research team is also planning to use a very similar enhanced
stem cell treatment in the near future to treat patients suffering from heart
attacks. These new therapies offer hope for better patient outcomes.

About the JGH
Since 1934, the Sir Mortimer B. Davis - Jewish General Hospital, a McGill
University teaching hospital, has provided "Care for All," serving patients
from diverse religious, linguistic and cultural backgrounds in Montreal,
throughout Quebec and beyond. As one of the province's largest acute-care
hospitals, the JGH has achieved a reputation for excellence in key medical
specialties by continually expanding and upgrading its facilities for clinical
treatment and teaching, as well as research at the Lady Davis Institute for
Medical Research. For more, please visit

The Stem Cell Network, established in 2001, brings together more than
70 leading scientists, clinicians, engineers, and ethicists from universities
and hospitals across Canada with a mandate to investigate the immense
therapeutic potential of stem cells for the treatment of diseases currently
incurable by conventional approaches. Headquartered at the University of
Ottawa, the Stem Cell Network is one of Canada's Networks of Centres of
Excellence funded through Industry Canada and its three granting councils.

Networks of Centres of Excellence are unique partnerships among
universities, industry, government and not-for-profit organizations aimed at
turning Canadian research and entrepreneurial talent into economic and social
benefits for all Canadians. The NCE program is managed jointly by the three
federal granting agencies- Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council,
the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Social Sciences and
Humanities Research Council.

For further information: Glenn J. Nashen, Director; Reena Kudhail,
Communications Specialist, Public Affairs & Communications, Jewish General
Hospital, (514) 340-8222 x 4120,,;

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