June 2010

PROOF Centre of Excellence Partners with the Canada India Network Society

Surrey, British Columbia – The federally-funded Centre of Excellence for Prevention of Organ Failure (PROOF Centre) and the Canada India Network Society (CINS) are joining forces to help combat the growing burden of cardiovascular disease among South Asian populations.

“Cardiovascular disease is a huge global burden that is especially impacting India,” says Dr. Arun Garg, President and Director of CINS. “With the rapid growth of heart disease in the country, it is expected that India alone faces treating 60 per cent of the world’s heart patients. Time is of the essence.”

The burden is enormous, with conditions like heart attack, coronary heart disease, diabetes mellitus, and kidney failure up to five times more prevalent in South Asian populations than those of European descent. The reason for this is not understood and cannot be explained on the basis of current understanding of environmental, behavioural or genetic contributions heart disease and metabolic syndrome. Repercussions from this health issue will also impact Canada, which is home to over one million people of South Asian descent.

“Gaining a beneficial impact on the cardio-metabolic disease burden that plagues peoples of South Asian background requires the best collaborative efforts of all sectors in both India and Canada,” says Dr. Garg.

The PROOF Centre, which focuses on biomarker discovery to create new blood tests to predict, diagnose and identify heart, lung and kidney failure, recently signed a memorandum with CINS. The two groups have committed to advance their collaboration in support of clinical trials, technology development and innovation, and implementation of solutions for better monitoring in communities. The CINS will facilitate network development and linkages between PROOF Centre and Indian academic, clinical and industrial institutes and organizations.

“The PROOF Centre of Excellence is very pleased to be working with CINS on biomarker solutions that can improve the current management and treatment of South Asian people who are at risk for or suffering from heart, blood vessel and renal disease to an inordinate degree,” says Dr. Bruce McManus, Director of PROOF Centre and the Providence Heart + Lung Institute. “This is an alarming health issue that we must fix.”

The PROOF Centre will pursue biomarkers (sets of genes and proteins) to develop new blood tests that can help determine risk for, presence and progression of cardio-metabolic conditions that plague South Asians.

“New means to identify, monitor and guide therapy of patients with these common conditions are urgently needed in India and Canada,” says Dr. McManus. “Bringing such solutions into the healthcare system here and around the world requires a 360-degree approach involving caregivers, life scientists, experts in computation, health policy leaders, industrial partners and patient advocates.”

The memorandum stems from the four-day Canada India Cardiovascular Health Conference 2010 (CINI 2010) taking place at the Simon Fraser University Surrey campus and organized by CINS. During the conference, the PROOF Centre led a Biomarkers Workshop hosted by the BC Institute of Technology for local, national and international delegates to the CINI 2010. The Workshop enabled deliberations by leaders in biomarker discovery and development aimed at the spectrum of heart and vascular health challenges faced by South Asians in India and Canada.

The footprint of CINI will be recorded in progress after the conference. As Dr. Arun Chockalingam, Co-Chair of the CINI meeting and Director of Global Health Research for the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health USA, indicates, “The memorandum coming through the efforts of CINI 2010 has a vision of facilitating programs to attack the global burden that weighs on all people with excess heart risks and disease, but especially South Asians, who carry an oppressive burden.”

Seeking biomarker solutions for South Asians