The University of Montreal’s chair on applied research in stem cells transplantation

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The Significance of Blood Cancers in Canada

A Recurrent Health Issue

This article is based on the page of the Maryse and William Brock chair in applied research for stem cells transplantation.

In Canada, blood cancers, including leukemia, myelodysplasias, lymphomas, and multiple myeloma, constitute a significant portion of cancer diagnoses. According to data from the Canadian Cancer Society in 2013, nearly 20,000 new cases of blood cancers were reported that year. An essential aspect of these cancers is their ability to affect individuals of all ages, from young children to the elderly.

Persistent Challenges Despite Therapeutic Advances

Despite significant therapeutic advances in recent years, more than half of adults diagnosed with blood cancer will succumb to their illness. Currently, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) remains the sole therapeutic modality capable of leading to a cure for patients who do not respond to conventional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation: A Beacon of Hope

Regenerative Medicine in Action

HSCT is a concrete example of regenerative medicine, which involves replacing old or damaged cells with genetically identical but young and functional cells. These stem cells can be obtained from human embryos or adult stem cells from bone marrow or growth factor-stimulated blood. The potential applications of regenerative medicine in treating blood cancers are vast and offer considerable hope for patient recovery.

Complexity and Challenges of HSCT

Over the past four decades, scientific research has improved the feasibility of transplantation for fragile or older patients, thereby reducing the risk of complications and improving survival rates. However, the field of HSCT has become increasingly complex due to the diversification of stem cell sources, ranging from bone marrow to stimulated blood and umbilical cords. Challenges remain, including accessibility to transplantation for all patients requiring this treatment, prevention and treatment of serious complications such as graft-versus-host disease, and the risk of relapse.

The University of Montreal and Blood Cancer Research

A Center of Excellence in Research and Clinical Care

The University of Montreal, in collaboration with its affiliated center, Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital (HMR), plays a leading role in blood cancer research and treatment. The HSCT Program at HMR is the largest in Quebec and the second-largest in Canada. It brings together internationally renowned clinical and fundamental researchers, working closely with the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC). Investments in infrastructure such as the Center of Excellence in Cellular Therapy (CETC) at HMR demonstrate a continued commitment to translational research in HSCT.

The Chair of Applied Research on HSCT: A Major Advance

Objectives and Expected Impacts

The establishment of the Chair of Applied Research on HSCT for the Treatment of Blood Cancers aims to establish a robust clinical research infrastructure to accelerate the transfer of knowledge from the laboratory to the patient’s bedside. Key objectives include creating a database for translational research, training qualified personnel, and acquiring state-of-the-art technologies for data collection and analysis.

Benefits for Research and Patients

This initiative will fill a gap in the field of translational research in HSCT by generating valuable clinical data for the design of new studies and the improvement of care for transplant patients. Collaboration between clinical and fundamental researchers will foster the emergence of therapeutic innovations and improve the quality of life for patients, thus contributing to saving lives.

In conclusion, the establishment of the Chair of Applied Research on stem cells  for the Treatment of Blood Cancers at the University of Montreal represents a significant advance in the fight against these devastating diseases. By investing in translational research and fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, this initiative paves the way for new treatment perspectives and hope for patients and their families.

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