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Ottawa researchers receive $ 8 million to find answers about COVID vaccine, cancer

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“These new studies will help protect some of the most vulnerable populations and advance vaccine science.”

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Ottawa researchers have been awarded more than $ 8 million to lead four national studies seeking answers on how well the COVID-19 vaccine works for people with cancer and other health conditions. ..

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The federal government is funding this work through the COVID-19 Immune Task Force and the Vaccine Surveillance Reference Group.

“These new studies will help protect some of the most vulnerable populations and advance vaccine science,” said Dr. Duncan Stewart, executive vice president of research at Ottawa Hospital.

Health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and lupus can contribute to the weakening of the immune system, making people more vulnerable to viral infections, including COVID-19. Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments can also weaken the patient’s immune system.

A weakened system can weaken the response to the vaccine.

Ottawa researchers try to understand how people with cancer and immunity responded to the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Three projects will investigate how effective the COVID-19 vaccine is in people with blood, lung, breast, prostate and colon cancer, as well as hereditary and drug-related immunodeficiencies. The fourth project seeks to understand the duration of immunity after it has been acquired by the COVID-19 vaccine or viral infection.

The main researchers are as follows.

• Dr. Arianne Buchan, an infectious disease specialist and researcher at Ottawa Hospital, will lead a $ 2.1 million national survey to find out how effective the COVID-19 vaccine is in patients with blood cancer.

Buchan is looking for people with leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and other blood cancers who have had a stem cell transplant.

“Our study provides data to help patients understand how they respond to the COVID-19 vaccine and helps protect them from infection,” said Buchan, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa. Says.

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• Dr. Glenwood Goss, an oncologist and researcher at Ottawa Hospital, led a $ 1.9 million study that enrolled 300 cancer patients in Ottawa and Vancouver and enrolled 150 healthy adults as controls. I will.

According to Goss, the study will examine whether cancer patients (people with lung, breast, prostate, and colon cancer) can initiate a sufficient immune response after COVID-19 vaccination.

Currently, more than 2 million Canadians live with cancer.

As part of the study, blood samples will be collected from participants to measure the vaccine’s immune response and antibody production.

• Dr. Juthaporn Cowan, an infectious disease specialist and researcher at Otawa Hospital, said a $ 2.5 million national survey to investigate how people with hereditary and drug-induced immunodeficiency respond to the COVID-19 vaccine. Is leading.

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As part of the study, researchers will seek to recruit 460 patients at 12 sites, including Ottawa, in conditions such as multiple sclerosis and arthritis.

Cowan, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, hopes that the study will give researchers a better understanding of which parts of the immune system are essential for the generation of an immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine. Said. Such information could be useful in the design of future vaccines, she said.

• Dr. Angela Crawley, a scientist at the University of Ottawa and an assistant professor at uOttawa, is leading a $ 1.7 million project to expand early research known as Stop The Spread Ottawa. The study, which began in October 2020, has already recruited more than 1,000 people who tested positive for COVID-19 or were at high risk of exposure.

The new funding will allow researchers to expand their research and track participants through 2022 to understand the ongoing immune system response to COVID-19 and vaccines. This study examines the effects of age and “long-distance” COVID-19.

As part of the study, blood and saliva samples have been collected monthly from participants since October 2020. Many of the people involved in the survey are frontline workers.

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