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Montreal Heart Institute, Biotechs Launch Personalized Heart Disease Treatment Program

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Montreal Heart Institute has partnered with several biotech companies and the Quebec government to launch a C$49.2 million (US$44.6 million) research program to that will use genetic and other biomarkers to develop personalized treatments for cardiovascular diseases.

In the project, dubbed ARTERIA, investigators at MHI's Research Centre and the industry partners will use biomarkers to optimize treatments for CVD that target low-density and high-density lipoproteins, vascular inflammation, and heart rate, MHI said today.

The project will be funded with C$18.2 million from Quebec and C$31 million from industry and other partners, including Hoffmann-LaRoche; Servier Canada; MedImmune; Valeant Canada; Pharmascience; Thrasos Therapeutics; Pfizer Canada; Spartan Bioscience; the MHI Foundation; and the University of Montreal.

Jean-Claude Tardiff, director of the MHI Research Centre and leader of the project, said the studies "will have tangible positive effects on patients living with or at risk of developing cardiovascular disease."

Tardiff's research focus is on the molecular, genomic, and clinical aspects of atherosclerosis and related diseases. A professor at the University of Montreal, he created the Beaulieu-Saucier Pharmacogenomics Centre, the Centre of Excellence in Personalized Medicine, and the Montreal Heart Institute Coordinating Center.

Tardiff and the ARTERIA partners plan to integrate methods that use various biomarkers, pharmacogenetic markers, and imaging technologies, into a single process for predicting how patients will respond to heart medications.

The partners plan to validate and implement diagnostic tests for statin-induced muscle toxicity, and to validate genetic markers and other biomarkers for identifying subgroups of patients who respond well to treatments that target high-density lipoproteins.

The researchers also plan to identify the genetic factors that determine the benefits of drugs that lower heart rates, to validate a plasma biomarker that predicts patients who will have a favorable response to vascular anti-inflammatory agents, and to determine whether systemic anti-inflammatory agents produce measurable effects and clinical benefits.