Two London, Ont. studies receive 2022 Provincial Innovation Fund Awards

Two studies led by researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University have won prestigious awards in the categories of Innovative Children’s Health Management and Translational Innovation in Transplantation: Improving Donor Organ Availability by the Innovation Fund Provincial Oversight Committee. 

Dr. Naveen Poonai and Dr. Michael Rieder, Scientists at Children’s Health Research Institute, a program of Lawson Health Research Institute, are looking at administering Ketodex (a combination of ketamine and dexmedetomidine) as a light sedative for paediatric patients through the nose. The goal is to avoid intravenous (IV) insertions that can sometimes be painful and technically difficult to perform.

“Research shows that we can do more to improve pain management in children in acute care settings,” explains Dr. Poonai, the primary investigator on the study who is also a Physician in the Children’s Hospital Emergency Department at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and an associate professor at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. “If shown to be beneficial, this nasal sedative could help reduce the number of painful intravenous insertions in children who require sedation in the emergency department.” 

The goal is to create a less distressing experience for families and to allow for better care in community settings, which would reduce the need to transfer injured children to larger centres.

“This study builds on work done previously by our group showing that combining the drug ketamine with other medications provides superior pain relief to either drug alone," adds Dr Rieder, a Physician at LHSC’s Children’s Hospital and the CIHR-GSK Chair in Paediatric Clinical Pharmacology at Schulich.

Dr. Naveen Poonai, Dr. Michael Rieder and Dr. Patrick Luke hold their Innovation Fund Award certificates. (Source: AMOSO)
Dr. Naveen Poonai, Dr. Michael Rieder and Dr. Patrick Luke hold their Innovation Fund Award certificates. (Source: AMOSO)

A second study, led by Dr. Patrick Luke, is studying a new method to help protect organs during storage before transplantation by assessing the impact of temperature and the addition of repositioned drugs. 

Instead of putting the organs on ice as is current practice, the study is circulating an oxygenated solution at room temperature. Earlier non-clinical research has shown this can reduce injury, protect from inflammation and improve function. There is hope that this method could improve transplant surgery outcomes, among other benefits.

In addition, the research team “has optimized a system to test drugs and developed a clinically relevant environment in which they could affect the organ,” explains Dr. Luke, who is also a Surgeon in the Department of Medicine at LHSC and a Professor at Schulich. “This could prolong graft survival and ensure organs are preserved long enough to be transplanted to patients in need.”

With the need for kidneys much greater than the number of donors available, organs from higher-risk donors are being used more frequently. 

The two studies combined have been awarded over $210,000. They were nominated by the Academic Medical Organization of Southwestern Ontario (AMOSO) for the 2022 Innovation Fund Awards. 

The Innovation Fund is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Health and the Ontario Medical Association, which has funded over 1,500 projects during the past 13 years.

Media Contact
Amanda Taccone

Communications Consultant & External Relations 
Lawson Health Research Institute
T: 519-685-8500 ext. ext. 64059
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