Stem Cell Network Recognizes Researcher for Leadership in Drug Screening with Stem Cells to Identify Potential Leukemia Therapies
OTTAWA, April 11, 2012 /CNW/ - Canada's most coveted stem cell prize
will be awarded to a researcher in Toronto - who acknowledges that he's
only been working with the life-giving cells for a short time.
Dr. Aaron Schimmer, associate professor in the University of Toronto's
Department of Medical Biophysics and a clinician-scientist in the
Princess Margaret Cancer Program/Ontario Cancer Institute at University
Health Network, has received the 2012 Till & McCulloch Award, presented
each year by the Stem Cell Network in recognition of the year's most
influential peer-reviewed article by a researcher in Canada. Dr.
Schimmer will accept the award and present a lecture entitled "Novel
therapeutic strategies to target leukemia stem cells" as part of the
Till and McCulloch Meetings in Montréal on April 30, 2012.
Despite being relatively new to the field of stem cell research, Dr.
Schimmer brings extensive knowledge of chemical biology and drug
discovery using robotic screening--a method known as high throughput
screening that has become a valuable tool for identifying potential new
therapies using stem cells. Dr. Schimmer was recognized for his article
published in the November 2011 issue of the scientific journal Cancer Cell, entitled, "Inhibition of Mitochondrial Translation as a Therapeutic
Strategy for Human Acute Myeloid Leukemia." In the lab, Dr. Schimmer
and his team used drug screening techniques on leukemic stem cells and
were able to identify existing drugs with strong potential to act as
effective treatments for the devastating blood disorder.
"It is incredibly impressive how much progress Dr. Schimmer has made in
such a short period of time by using these stem cell screening
techniques," said Stem Cell Network Scientific Director Michael
Rudnicki. "By identifying drugs which are already approved for human
therapies and testing their efficacy in treating diseases such as
leukemia, Dr. Schimmer has shaved years off of the clinical trial
process. It is likely that his discovery will improve the outcomes for
many patients in the near future."
By concentrating on Federal Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs and
testing their efficacy against leukemic stem cells, Dr. Schimmer's team
identified one antimicrobial agent in particular--tigecycline, an
antibiotic sometimes used to treat skin and abdominal infections--as a
potential treatment for acute myeloid leukemia.
"When I was notified by the Stem Cell Network that I had received the
award and would be presenting the Till & McCulloch Lecture, I was truly
surprised--and very excited," said Dr. Schimmer. "Our lab developed a
stem cell focus in very large part due to our involvement with the Stem
Cell Network, so it's fitting that the relationship has come full
circle. For me to stand among the most prominent names in this field is
a great honour."
In 2005, the Stem Cell Network established the Till & McCulloch Award in
honour of Canadians Drs. James Till and Ernest McCulloch, whose
pioneering work established the field of stem cell research. The Award
had been granted at the Stem Cell Network's Annual Scientific Meeting,
but became part of the Till & McCulloch Meetings this year. The
previous winner was Timothy Caulfield, who was recognized for his
global leadership in the field of stem cell ethics.
About the Stem Cell Network
The Stem Cell Network, established in 2001, brings together more than 100
leading scientists, clinicians, engineers, and ethicists from
universities and hospitals across Canada. The Network supports
cutting-edge projects that translate research discoveries into new and
better treatments for millions of patients in Canada and around the
world. Hosted by 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. For more information on the
Stem Cell Network, please visit www.stemcellnetwork.ca.
About University Health Network
University Health Network consists of Toronto General, Toronto Western and Princess
Margaret Hospitals, and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. The scope of
research and complexity of cases at University Health Network has made
it a national and international source for discovery, education and
patient care. It has the largest hospital-based research program in
Canada, with major research in cardiology, transplantation,
neurosciences, oncology, surgical innovation, infectious diseases,
genomic medicine and rehabilitation medicine. University Health Network
is a research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto. www.uhn.ca
Skrtić M, Sriskanthadevan S, Jhas B, Gebbia M, Wang X, Wang Z, Hurren R,
Jitkova Y, Gronda M, Maclean N, Lai CK, Eberhard Y, Bartoszko J,
Spagnuolo P, Rutledge AC, Datti A, Ketela T, Moffat J, Robinson BH,
Cameron JH, Wrana J, Eaves CJ, Minden MD, Wang JC, Dick JE, Humphries
K, Nislow C, Giaever G, Schimmer AD. "Inhibition of mitochondrial
translation as a therapeutic strategy for human acute myeloid
leukemia." Cancer Cell, 2011 Nov 15;20(5):674-88.
Podcast on High Throughput Screening - "Robots on Drugs", available: http://experimental-podcast.tumblr.com/post/20443247189/high-throughput-screening
SOURCE Stem Cell Network
For further information:
Director of Communications
Stem Cell Network
Telephone: 613 739 6673 or 613 304 2108