New partnership accelerates treatments for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease patients

Vancouver, March 4, 2016, A world-renowned St. Paul’s Hospital lung researcher and Canada’s national Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) have teamed up to fight one of the world’s deadliest lung illnesses – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Dr. Don Sin, chest physician and leading lung researcher at Providence Health Care (PHC) and the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation (HLI) at St. Paul’s Hospital, has been working for the past 10 years to discover novel biomarkers that will lead to new therapies and improve the care of patients with COPD. Dr. Sin and his research group have made breakthrough discoveries that have shed light on why some individuals develop COPD and others do not. They are now in position to identify which of these discoveries will translate into drug targets.

CDRD’s Target Validation group, led by Dr. Edie Dullaghan, has partnered with Dr. Sin to advance his research from the lab into targeted drug development, leading to innovative therapies for patients with COPD. Now a new nine month project is underway to validate and characterize a subset of specific genes related to the disease. CDRD will analyze human lung tissue samples from both COPD and non-COPD patients in a blinded study.

The results of this work will form the basis for further targeted studies validating novel drug therapeutic targets.

“I have seen family members struggle with COPD and know the devastating impacts this disease can have on patients and their loved ones,” says Health Minister Terry Lake. “As we seek to improve patient care, we look to more effective treatments, which can zero in and provide the best possible outcomes for patients.”

“With the “omics” revolution, we have an unprecedented opportunity at Providence Health Care to improve the lives of millions of patients with COPD across Canada by developing new (disruptive) treatments that will relieve breathlessness, reduce hospitalizations and massively cut down deaths related to lung failure,” says Dr. Sin, a Canada Research Chair in COPD. “This partnership with CDRD will bring synergies to the organization by enabling us to translate genomics data to tangible products and therapeutics for our patients.”

“This project exemplifies CDRD as a partner of choice for world-renowned scientists providing the critical independent validation required to move their research along the drug development continuum,” remarks Karimah Es Sabar, President and CEO of CDRD. “We aim to add value to Dr. Sin’s research by helping advance his important discoveries through our drug development platform. We can then identify and prioritize the specific targets with the highest degree of therapeutic and commercial potential.”

About Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) COPD affects over 800,000 Canadians and is the second-leading cause of morbidity and mortality in North America. The disease accounts for the highest rate of hospital admission among major chronic illnesses in Canada, adding a significant burden to patients and families, and the Canadian health care system. Global drug expenditure for COPD exceeds $44B per year but does very little to control COPD disease progression or mortality.

COPD, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is most commonly seen in patients over 40. More than 80% of COPD cases are caused by cigarette smoke, while remaining cases are caused by genetic or environmental risk factors, such as pollution and second hand smoke.

About Providence Health Care Providence Health Care

(PHC) is one of Canada’s largest faith-based health care organizations, operating 16 health care facilities in Greater Vancouver. PHC operates one of two adult academic health science centres in the province – St. Paul’s Hospital – performs cutting-edge research in more than 30 clinical specialties, and focuses its services on six “populations of emphasis”: cardio-pulmonary risks and illnesses, HIV/AIDS, mental health, renal risks and illness, specialized needs in aging and urban health and is home to the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. Research activity taking place at PHC is supported by its research enterprise, Providence Health Care Research Institute.
About The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD)

Headquartered in Vancouver, The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) is Canada’s national drug development and commercialization engine. We work in partnership with academia, industry, government and foundations, and provide the specialized expertise and infrastructure to identify and de-risk promising discoveries, and transform them into commercially viable investment opportunities for the private sector – and ultimately into innovative new therapies for patients. In doing so, CDRD is actively growing our national health sciences industry into a wholly-optimized generator of economic prosperity for the country. Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence Program has recognized CDRD as a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR).

About the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation
The Centre for Heart Lung Innovation (HLI) is a UBC senate approved research centre located at St. Paul’s Hospital. The HLI is home to world-class cardiovascular, pulmonary and critical care research, conducted by its 30 principal investigators and over 200 researchers. The HLI’s mission is to discover and translate solutions for heart, lung, blood vessel and critical care diseases while attracting and supporting the best researchers.

– 30 –

For more information:
Elaine Yong, Senior Communications Specialist – Media Relations Providence Health Care
Tel: 604-682-2344 extension 66987
Cell: 604-837-6003

Julia White,
Manager, Communications The Centre for Drug Research and Development
Tel: 604-827-1226