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Dr. Don Sin Receives CFI Award Towards Revolutionizing COPD and Asthma Treatment

By December 5, 2017No Comments

There are currently 5 million Canadians suffering from asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), diseases of airflow limitation for which there are no effective treatments. The main reason is that there are many subtypes of these diseases, and some people even suffer from both – a condition called Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome. The key to discovering new life-preserving drugs for these airway diseases is to be able to properly identify the various subtypes. That is where Dr. Don Sin, Head of Respiratory Medicine and Scientist at the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation (HLI), comes in.

Together with a team from the Providence Airway Centre at the HLI including Dr. Leipsic, Head of Radiology at PHC, Dr. Sin was recently awarded a $2.2 million infrastructure grant by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for project “TORCH: Towards Omics and Imaging to Revolutionize COPD and Asthma”. TORCH aims to improve the understanding and identification of different subtypes using state-of-the-art genetic and “omics” technologies in order to ultimately create specific drugs to treat each subtype. Drug effectiveness will be validated using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods.

With the support of this prestigious grant, Dr. Sin and his collaborators can now procure the necessary tools to accomplish these goals. The new equipment can be applied to study other forms of chronic lung disease as well.

According to Dr. Sin, “The new CFI award for HLI and St. Paul’s Hospital will transform the way [we] study COPD, cystic fibrosis, asthma and pulmonary fibrosis and will lead to major breakthroughs in new therapies and diagnostics for these lung conditions.”

At present, asthma and COPD treatment cost the health care system $3.5 billion/year, which is predicted to increase to $7.4 billion per year by 2030 if nothing is done. With the support of the CFI award, TORCH will be a great step towards finding better diagnostics and therapies for patients.